The NCAA men’s basketball season is entering its final month of the regular season with conference tournaments to follow and then the Big Dance, March Madness to cap it off.
For eight consecutive weeks, the Arizona Wildcats sat atop the AP poll, but last week two losses hurt the Wildcats chances for a national title. The Wildcats finally lost a regular season game and now sit at 21-1 SU and 13-8 ATS. Arizona was defeated on the road by a last second shot by California 60-58.
However, the second loss last week, and the bigger of the two for Arizona was watching Brandon Ashley, their forward suffer a broken foot knocking him out for the rest of the season.
The big question on the minds of Arizona coaches, players and fans is if the Wildcats can still compete for the national title without Ashley. Odds makers are not so sure.
Ashley was averaging over 11 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game. Only seven weeks remain prior to the start of the postseason. There is no possible way he could get back to playing shape even with a rushed rehab.
Ashley, standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 230 lbs, was a versatile and crucial piece of Arizona’s success. He is so versatile he could fill in for the team’s injured center in one game, and hit 3-point shots in another.
Because of that versatility and importance to the team, odds makers at Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com have all knock down Arizona’s chances for a national title to 8 to 1.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a freshman forward will step into Arizona’s starting lineup to take Ashley’s spot. While the freshman is talented and athletic, it is still up in the air as to whether he can adjust and make a significant impact at this point in the season.
Arizona plays against Oregon on Thursday. The Ducks are 15-6 SU and 8-10-2 ATS. On Sunday, Arizona is home to Oregon State which is 13-8 SU and 8-9-1 ATS. Those two games will give coaches and players the chance to see how they can overcome Ashley’s absence.
As of now, odds makers still expect Arizona to be a No. 1 seed. However, that decision will have to wait until selection committee members get to see the Wildcats against tough competition during their conference tournament.
Updated Odds to Win NCAA Tournament
Florida Gators 6-1
Michigan State Spartan 7-1
Syracuse Orange 7-1
Kansas Jayhawks 8-1
Arizona Wildcats 8-1