Can Bobby Hurley lead the Arizona State Sun Devils to the top of the Pac-12 this season? (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)
- The Arizona State Sun Devils have opened as the favorite to win the Pac-12 conference in the 2020-21 season.
- The Oregon Ducks are the defending Pac-12 champions after finishing atop the conference in the shortened 2019-20 season.
- Is there value with any long shots to win this conference? Read below for odds and analysis
The 2020-21 college basketball regular season is right around the corner. Practice has begun and the games are expected to tip-off on November 25th. The Arizona State Sun Devils are favored to win the Pac-12 with the UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks not far behind in terms of the odds. Which team is the best bet to win the conference? Let’s take a closer look.
2020-21 Pac-12 College Basketball Odds
Odds taken Oct 14 at DraftKings
Sun Devils Favored But Might Not Be The Best Bet
The Sun Devils are favored to win the Pac-12 as Bobby Hurley’s team will have plenty of talent. They will get back Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge in their backcourt, which is big as these two were the team’s leading scorers last season, combining for a healthy 33.5 points per game.
Although Romello White (10.2 points per game) was lost to the transfer portal, they will be adding a couple of big-time freshmen in Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley. They were the No. 12 and No. 29 prospects in the 2020 class and if they deliver, this could be one of the better teams in the country.
Star basketball recruit Josh Christopher was a “lock” to choose Michigan – instead he just committed to Arizona State.
RT to make a Michigan fan cry pic.twitter.com/2FYvCbeTsO
— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) April 14, 2020
The concern here is their poor three-point shooting and lack of depth in the frontcourt. This is a team that tied for 229th in the country in terms of three-point field goal percentage. It’s unclear if they’ll be any better this season.
Bruins Are Second In Line
There were a lot of people who weren’t certain about the hiring of Mick Cronin at UCLA, but few people are questioning it these days. This team finished second in the conference last season as he brought a real toughness to the squad. That was a big change over 2018-19 when this team was a real pushover. They finished 17-16 that year with lots of soft performances.
Last season, the Bruins finished 19-12 but more importantly, showed that they were going to compete every night. They started the year 8-9 as it took some time for Cronin to implement his system and values, but once the team got it, they went on a roll. The Bruins finished with 11 wins in their final 14 contests with the three losses all coming on the road to top teams in the conference.
“I’d rather live one day as a lion than a hundred days as a lamb.”
~ Mick Cronin, UCLA basketball coach pic.twitter.com/8EdqLrwjN1
— Coach the Coaches (@WinningCoaches) August 31, 2020
Looking ahead to this season, there are no real “stars” on the team but there is a lot of talent. With Chris Smith back (the Pac-12’s most improved player last season) and the addition of Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang and a four-star guard in Jaylen Clark, this team should again be one of the top teams in the conference.
Pass On Oregon
The Oregon Ducks won the Pac-12 last season, but they will have a lot of work to maintain that standing in 2020-21. They lost guard Payton Pritchard, who led the team with 20.5 points per game and was 23rd in the country in that category. It’s not easy to replace that type of production and they also lost a couple of quality roleplayers in Anthony Mathis and Shakur Juiston.
— Oregon Men’s Basketball (@OregonMBB) October 14, 2020
The team’s success or failure likely falls on the shoulders of Jalen Terry, a well-regarded recruit. If he can replace a lot of what Pritchard did at the point guard position, this team might not fall too far. They’ll need more from wings Will Richardson and Chris Duarte too. Overall, it feels like they’ll slip this season.
Value With Arizona?
The Pac-12 feels wide open, for the most part, so betting on a team like Arizona at 7/1 is intriguing. They were only 10-8 last season and lost a ton off the roster. Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji, and Josh Green are gone and this trio was the team’s top three scorers. At the same time – as mentioned – they were 10-8, so it’s not as if they were awesome.
There’s still a war chest of talent here for Sean Miller to work with. While there are no five-star studs, there is plenty of quality with a class that had five players in the 247Sports’ Top 125. And, for the first time in a while, there is little attention (good or bad) being paid to this team, so they might be able to focus on producing on-court.
Arizona basketball practice starts tomorrow pic.twitter.com/OXsvAVOSBS
— WildcatAuthority.com (@AZAuthority) October 14, 2020
This is really a boom-or-bust team. The bench is going to be mostly freshmen and three transfer – Terrell Brown, Jordan Brown, and James Akinjo – are likely going to start. However, if Miller can get the youngsters to develop quickly, this team does have the potential to finish atop the conference.
If you’re looking to play it safe with the Pac-12 Championship odds, Arizona State or UCLA are the safer bets. If you’re interested in riskier play with both more upside and downside, Arizona is the choice.
For over 15 years, Dave has been working in mainstream media and sports betting. He hosted a station on Sirius Satellite Radio for four years, and is currently a senior writer for AskMen. He’s interviewed hundreds of hundreds of high-profile sports stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Floyd Mayweather.