March Madness: Will the Arizona Wildcats break their NCAA Tournament losing streak?

March Madness: Can Arizona Wildcats Snap NCAA Tourney Skid?
Fact Checked by Young Ruth

In the 21st century, the Arizona Wildcats have struggled on the college basketball court, losing five out of six Elite Eight games by a combined total of 20 points.

This year, the Wildcats are carrying momentum into Thursday’s Sweet 16 game against No. 6-seed Clemson, following wins over Long Beach State and Dayton to reach the third round in Los Angeles.

Bookmakers are feeling positive about Arizona’s chances, with ESPN’s betting site favoring the Wildcats by 6.5 points after an initial spread of -7.5. The odds for Arizona to win outright are currently at -290.

Since 2000, the Wildcats have a 6-5 (.545) record in the Sweet 16 and a 1-5 (.167) record in the Elite Eight. Arizona is looking to reach the Final Four in Downtown L.A. with a game against Clemson at 4:09 p.m. local time. According to Arizona sports betting sites, Connecticut is the favorite to win the national title at +200, with Houston at +500 and Purdue at +650.

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Sweet 16 games in Arizona since 2000

  • In 2022, experienced a loss to No. 5 Houston with a final score of 72-60.
  • In 2017, we were defeated by No. 11 Xavier with a final score of 73-71.
  • In 2015, won against No. 6 Xavier with a score of 68-60.
  • In 2014, we triumphed over the fourth-ranked San Diego State team with a final score of 70-64.
  • In 2013, experienced a loss to the No. 2 Ohio State team with a final score of 73-70.
  • In 2011, they triumphed over the number one Duke team with a score of 93-77.
  • In 2009, we experienced a loss to the number one ranked Louisville team, ending with a final score of 103-64.
  • In 2005, won against the No. 2 Oklahoma State by a narrow margin of one point, with a final score of 79-78.
  • In 2003, they emerged victorious against No. 5 Notre Dame with a final score of 88-71.
  • In 2002, experienced a loss to the No. 2 Oklahoma team by a final score of 88-67.
  • In 2001, we triumphed over the third-ranked Ole Miss team, winning with a score of 66-56.
  • Overall: 6-5 (.545)
  • Arizona’s average score was 72.4, compared to their opponents’ average score of 74.1.

Elite Eight Games in Arizona Since 2000

  • In 2015, we were defeated by top-ranked Wisconsin with a score of 85-78.
  • In 2014, we experienced a loss to the second-ranked Wisconsin team in overtime, ending with a score of 64-63.
  • In 2011, we were defeated by No. 3 UConn with a score of 65-63.
  • In 2005, we experienced a loss to the top-ranked Illinois team in overtime, with a final score of 90-89.
  • In 2003, experienced a loss to No. 2 Kansas with a score of 78-75.
  • In 2001, Illinois, the top-ranked team, was beaten by a score of 87-81.
  • Overall: 1-5 (.167)
  • Arizona’s average score is 75.9, while their opponents have an average score of 77.2.

Facts About Wildcats’ Sweet 16 and Elite 8 Appearances

From 2000 to 2022, Arizona has participated in 11 Sweet 16 games. They have been defeated five times by teams seeded as high as No. 1 (Louisville in 2009) and as low as No. 11 (Xavier in 2017). During this timeframe, Arizona holds a 1-0 record against sixth-seeded teams.

In 2015, Arizona won their only game by defeating No. 6 Xavier 68-60. However, they were then defeated by Wisconsin in the Elite Eight with a score of 85-78, marking the Wildcats’ final appearance in the fourth round.

The Wildcats have struggled in this round for the past century, experiencing their biggest defeat against the Badgers by seven points. They were also defeated by Kansas by three points in 2003, UConn by two points in 2011, and by one point each to the Badgers in 2014 and Illinois in 2005, with both games going into overtime.

Arizona is currently listed with the fourth-best odds to win the title at +900 on Arizona betting apps, suggesting that oddsmakers believe in the Wildcats’ potential. A victory against the Tigers could provide them with an opportunity to end their over two-decade-long tournament curse, potentially setting up a matchup against either top-seeded North Carolina or fourth-seeded Alabama in the following round.

At present, Arizona fans are hoping that the Wildcats can overcome their past March Madness difficulties in Los Angeles and make a successful run.

Rob Gray took the photo for USA Today.



Peterson Christopher

For more than seven years, Peterson Christopher has been reporting on sports and sports betting in Arizona. He currently serves as the chief writer for, with past positions at, the Tucson Weekly, and the Green Valley News.

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