Tigers and Wildcats Faceoff in Tourney Opener
We will now preview each of the two teams, and then we’ll give you our betting predictions for this Round of 64 contest. Keep reading for college basketball odds, analysis, and a free pick for Princeton vs. Arizona.
2023 March Madness First Four Game 1
Princeton Tigers vs. Arizona Wildcats Betting Preview
Princeton of Ivy League meets Arizona of Pac-12 in NCAA Tourney First Round
ATS Odds: Arizona -14.5
Over/Under Odds: 154.5 -110
When: Tuesday, March 14 at 6:40 pm ET
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
TV / Streaming: TNT
A Look at the Teams: Princeton vs. Arizona
Arizona enters the game looking to commence its march to the program’s second national title after cutting down the nets in 1997. The Wildcats have been a model of consistency when it comes to March, advancing to the second weekend seven times since the 2008-2009 season. In addition, since that time, the Cats have been a 1 or 2 seed five times.
Princeton Tigers returns to the tournament for the first time since the 2017 and third time since 2000. Tigers have advanced past the first round twice in the modern era, beating UNLV in 1996 and UCLA in 1998. This is the second NCAA appearance for Princeton headman Mitch Henderson as he led Princeton to the dance in the 2016-17 season.
Inside the Matchup
As we have seen in year’s past, the recipe for an upset come March is slowing the ball down and making key shots at key times. In looking at Princeton’s average time per possession according to KenPom metrics, the Tigers average 18.1 seconds on every offensive set, ranking 241st in the nation.
A couple of other factors: there are very few teams in the PAC-12 that slow it down to the degree Princeton does. The only team that comes to mind is Washington State, who holds it for 19.3 seconds. The Cougars beat Arizona at McKale in early January and then lost to them by five on the Palouse later than month.
The committee did Princeton no favors, not only relegating them out West but making them play in the early window on Thursday making it a short turnaround for the Tigers and giving them little time to acclimate to the time change and conditions.
The one metric which has proven to be key to tournament success is offensive efficiency in KenPom. Eight of the last 10 national champs have ranked inside the top 15. Arizona is fourth in that category with their only true Achilles heel being free throw percentage, they rank 217th nationally. That could come into play late in a game as it relates to a potential backdoor over by Princeton or even an outright shocker.
Princeton Tigers vs. Arizona Wildcats Relevant Trends
- At this time, Princeton has an over/under record of 2-2-1 in their last 5 games.
- The Tigers are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.
- So far, the Tigers 2-1 vs. the spread in their last 3 games as the underdog.
- Also, Arizona has an over/under record of 3-2 in their last 5 games.
- Additionally, Wildcats are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.
- The Wildcats are 2-0-1 vs. the spread in their last 3 games as the favorite.
Princeton vs. Arizona Final Betting Prediction
While it is highly unlikely that Princeton shocks the world and upsets the Wildcats, the markets have this anywhere between 14.5 and in rare instances 15 in favor of Arizona. KenPom has the game 85-72, which makes us think that getting 1.5-2 points more is certainly a good value play.
We lean towards Princeton in this spot just because of their ability to slow it down and the fact that Arizona did have trouble with the only team to play that way, Washington State, during the season. The totals in those Wazzu games were 135 and 121, and the number here in most places is 154.
End of the day, we recommend the under and taking Princeton and the points in this matchup.
March Madness First Four Game 1 Pick: Under and taking Princeton | Bet Princeton vs. Arizona Today
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