UCLA forward Cody Riley, left, defends on Colorado forward Jeriah Horne (41) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
- The UCLA Bruins ride a perfect 4-0 conference record into Arizona as betting underdogs on Saturday night
- The Wildcats are coming off their first home loss of the season, and have also lost three straight to the Bruins
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends ahead of this Pac-12 Conference matchup at McKale Memorial Center
The UCLA Bruins will be aiming to extend their lead atop the Pac-12 Conference standings with a fourth straight win when they visit the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night as 3.5-point road underdogs. The Bruins improved to 4-0 SU in conference play with Thursday’s 81-75 overtime win over Arizona State. Conversely, the Wildcats look to rebound from their first home defeat of the season, an 87-73 loss to USC on Thursday that snapped a four-game SU win streak.
Here’s a look at the odds and trends ahead of Saturday night’s matchup at McKale Memorial Center.
UCLA Bruins vs Arizona Wildcats Odds
|UCLA Bruins||+3.5 (-112)||+142||O 139.5 (-110)|
|Arizona Wildcats||-3.5 (-108)||-168||U 139.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 8 from FanDuel.
Unbeaten Bruins Aim to Build on Fast Start
The Bruins have carried over the strong play that highlighted the final six weeks of last season, charging to an 8-2 SU start overall. UCLA has benefited from a favorable home schedule that featured early dates with non-conference opponents like Seattle U, San Diego, and Marquette. However, the squad has turned in mixed results in dates away from home hardwood at Pauley Pavilion, going 2-2 SU and ATS in four road and neutral sit contests.
ICYMI last night, the Bruins edged Arizona State in overtime, 81-75.
Catch some of the highlights from UCLA’s win in Tempe.#GoBruins 🏀🎥 pic.twitter.com/jfZphiW3k6
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 8, 2021
Things have also tightened up considerably since the club opened their conference schedule, with two of their past three dates with Pac-12 rivals getting settled by three or fewer points. Despite keeping things close, the Bruins have managed to regularly reward loyal sports bettors by going 7-2 ATS in their past nine.
However, UCLA has proven to be a massive betting disappointment when favored by four or fewer points on the road, going 1-13 SU and winless ATS in their past 14, capped by a season-opening 73-58 loss to San Diego State as 3.5-point chalk.
Even without Chris Smith, Bobby Hurley expects UCLA to present multiple defensive challenges due to the growth of Tyger Campbell and its physicality with forwards Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
“I think they really have a good identity as a team, UCLA.”https://t.co/Zji7KwvsRa pic.twitter.com/Iksne5oVBF
— SunDevilSource.com (@SunDevilSource) January 7, 2021
Still, there is plenty to like about this youthful edition of the Bruins. Guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. leads the squad with 12.8 points per game, while fellow sophomore Tyger Campbell is tops on the team with 7.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
However, it was senior big man Cody Riley that proved to be the difference maker in this week’s win over the Sun Devils. Riley recorded his third double-double of the season with 22 points and 13 rebounds, but was also the only Bruins starter to reach double digits in points.
2020-21 College Basketball Conference Title Odds Tracker
Wildcats Search for End to Losing Streak vs UCLA
The Wildcats look to get back into the win column following Thursday’s loss to USC. Arizona was steady while posting victories in its four previous outings, and has averaged over 79 points per game over that five game stretch. But while the club ranks a respectable 26th in adjusted offensive efficiency at Kenpom, they have struggled to generate consistent offense, going 38.7% from the floor over their past two contests to drop to 167th in the nation in field goal percentage.
Breakout game for 18-year-old Arizona freshman big man Azuolas Tubelis last night against Evan Mobley and USC: 31 PTS, 8 REBS, 3 AST on 11-for-16 FGs including 2-of-4 3P. The 6-10 Lithuanian lefty now has a 22.4 PER through his first 11 collegiate games. pic.twitter.com/ERhDrFBCtJ
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 8, 2021
That hasn’t helped the Wildcats at the sportsbooks, where they compiled a middling 4-7 ATS record, including a 1-3 ATS mark in their past four home dates. Complicating matters is the squad’s unenviable record while favored at home by four or fewer points, with just one outright win in their past six, and covering just once in their past 12.
In addition, the Wildcats have plenty of work to do to put the brakes on a 0-3 SU and ATS slide versus UCLA. That run includes a crushing 65-52 loss to the Bruins as 12.5-point home favorites in February of last year, which dumped the Wildcats to 2-3 SU in their past five desert meetings with UCLA.
Luck for the Wildcats’ struggles to continue against a Bruins squad that looks poised to shift to a higher gear.
The Picks: Bruins win (+142); UNDER 139.5 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.