UCLA guard Johnny Juzang (3) makes a pass during an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
- UCLA (14-5, 10-3 Pac 12) battles Arizona (14-7, 8-7 Pac 12) on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 9pm ET
- The Bruins beat the Wildcats on the road by five points when these teams met back in early January
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
UCLA is in hot pursuit of USC in the Pac-12 conference standings, but you might not know it if you’ve watched the Bruins play in the past two-and-a-half weeks. UCLA has gone 2-3 in that span, playing down to some lesser opponents in the process.
They’ll match up with a fairly even opponent — at least on paper — in Arizona on Thursday, Feb. 18 with the tip off scheduled for 9:00 pm ET at Pauley Pavillion in Los Angeles.
UCLA got the better of Arizona when these teams met last month, but oddsmakers are expecting a closely contested battle in the rematch.
Arizona vs UCLA Odds
|Arizona||+1.5 (-105)||-105||Over 139 (-110)|
|UCLA||-1.5 (-115)||-115||Under 139 (-110)|
Odds as of Feb. 17th, 2020 at FanDuel.
How They’ve Fared Recently
UCLA rolled into its Jan. 23 game against Stanford with a national ranking (#24) and a perfect 8-0 conference record. But the Bruins fell to the Cardinal in overtime that night, 73-72, beginning a cold streak that they hope ends Thursday.
A week after the overtime loss, UCLA snuck by Oregon State (123rd in KenPom) with a five-point win. Then they got blown out by #17 USC and lost to Washington State (112th in KenPom), too, before squeaking out a three-point win over Washington (164th in KenPom).
Let’s run back some highlights from Johnny Juzang’s 32-point effort and UCLA’s 64-61 win at Washington. pic.twitter.com/vBcyrXxl5o
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) February 14, 2021
The Bruins’ rough patch could end if they shot the 3-pointer more. They’re 65th in NCAA Division I in 3-pt. shooting percentage (36.2 percent) but 281st in D-I in 3-pt. usage (32.8 percent of field goal attempts).
Arizona is even better at shooting threes (38.1 percent, 26th in D-I) and yet they use that scoring method even less (30.8 percent of field goal attempts, 311th in D-I). The Wildcats have been in their own slump of late, with losses in four of their past six.
Benn was still on the way UP when he threw this DOWN!
📲 https://t.co/PmdbwrSRdz pic.twitter.com/Go2Yy7652C
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) February 13, 2021
To be fair, all four of those losses came against teams inside KenPom’s top 70. And the two most recent losses, to Colorado (16th) and Oregon (39th), came by three and two points, respectively.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
UCLA is 9-10 against the spread overall, but at home they’re a much improved 6-3 ATS. Five of the Bruins’ past six games have been away from home, so surely they’re looking forward to being back in a friendly atmosphere. The under has hit in three of their past four games.
“Obviously, against Arizona, they will play two bigs almost the entire game. So yes, it’s all matchups … right now, all I am worried about is Thursday. Foul trouble is a concern.”
Coach Cronin on facing Arizona in Pauley, this Thursday pic.twitter.com/uPHalESOKx
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) February 16, 2021
Arizona is 8-13 ATS, with a 3-4 ATS road record. The Wildcats have suffered three ATS losses in their past four games, and they’ve seen the under hit in six of their past seven.
The Jan. 9 matchup between these teams, played at Arizona, finished with the Bruins pulling out an 81-76 victory.
Both teams recorded just nine turnovers and the rebound battle was nearly a dead heat — but the difference maker was that Arizona committed 25 personal fouls, allowing UCLA to shoot 27-of-32 from the free throw line.
Ironically, Arizona is typically the team that gets to the line at a torrid pace (their free throw to field goal rate is 42.8 percent, sixth in D-I). The Wildcats have committed no more than 15 fouls in each of their past seven games, and if they keep that up they can exact revenge on the Bruins.
Pick: Arizona +1.5 (-105)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.