UCLA Bruins (17-7) at Arizona State Sun Devils (18-6)
We picked up a nice and easy win last night when we backed the Harvard Crimson at home against Princeton. As I mentioned in the article yesterday, the Ivy League is likely the most home dominant league in all of college basketball, and you very rarely see road teams winning league games.
The game was actually much more of a blowout than I had anticipated, and we really didn’t have to sweat it at all. The Crimson jumped out to a fifteen-point halftime lead and rode that the rest of the way out, eventually taking the game, 66-51, and easily covering the -2-point spread. In true quirky Ivy League fashion, Harvard is back on the court tonight as they host Penn in a game that could very well decide who wins the Ivy League regular season title. The Crimson are -1-point home favorites and that game should be a thriller.
For today’s pick, I am going to shift focus away from the Ivy league and break down a matchup in the conference of champions, the PAC 12, as Arizona State hosts UCLA.
The UCLA Bruins will travel to Tempe Saturday for a primetime matchup with the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Bruins are fresh off a huge road win against the other Arizona team, the Arizona Wildcats, on Thursday, and are winners of four straight games.
The Sun Devils will look to protect their home court in league play, something they have struggled with so far this season. Arizona State is -4.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 164 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Wells-Fargo Arena.
If you have been an avid reader of my daily picks, you would know how I feel about this Arizona State team this year. If we were in a relationship, our Facebook page would say its complicated. I am in a very love/hate relationship with Arizona State this season.
Early in the year, they had me convinced they were the best team in the country. They beat Kansas, Xavier, San Diego State, and Kansas State in the non-conference. It didn’t matter who was in front of them, the Sun Devils plowed right through them.
Then PAC 12 league play hit and the Sun Devils showed me that maybe the non-conference slate wasn’t who they really were. They lost to Oregon, at home. They lost to Utah, at home. They lost to Colorado, Arizona, Washington, and Stanford on the road.
Wins have been hard to come by in conference play for Arizona State, and they are forced with having to play one of the best teams in the PAC 12 tonight, that just happens to be playing really good basketball at the moment, in UCLA.
The UCLA Bruins started the season dealing with the Big Baller Brand B.S. that ended up being a huge distraction. Liangelo Ball ended up getting kicked off the team, as did two of his teammates, and you had to wonder if this was going to be a season full of potential wasted in L.A. But you gotta give a lot of credit to UCLA head coach Steve Alford as he has his guys focused and playing very well right now, and they are in great shape to get an NCAA tournament bid.
The Bruins just picked up the biggest win of their season when they went into Arizona and beat a top ten ranked Wildcats team on their home court Thursday night. The Bruins were in bad need of a big-time signature win, and they got it this week.
The rest of the schedule lays out nicely for a strong UCLA finish. They have games coming up against Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and USC that are all very winnable. The Bruins find themselves just one game back of Arizona for the PAC 12 regular season title and could very easily run the table and win or share the title with the Wildcats.
I still love Arizona State. Trae Holder is the man, and I love what Bobby Hurley is doing to build the program. But I can’t deny the fact that they are struggling badly in conference play. Even the games that they are winning are super tight ones. They have been terrible against the spread at home. A two-point win against Oregon State, a two-point win against USC and losses to Oregon and Utah have shown me that the Sun Devils aren’t great at home this year.
If I were hard-pressed to produce an outright winner in this game, I would lean towards Arizona State. As much as they have struggled they are still a very talented team and can beat any team in the country on a given night. But I just can’t wrap my head around this oversized line.
This number opened at Arizona State -5 points, and the sharps must have agreed with me as it was quickly bet down to -4.5. This team just doesn’t blow out many teams out at home in league play. And that was against the middle tier of the league. Against a team that could win the PAC 12, like UCLA? I think this should be a -1 or -2-point line at best.
So even though we gave up half a point by waiting around, I still see a lot of value in backing the road team here tonight. With the way the Bruins are playing they could very easily take this game outright. But I won’t need all of that. I will just need a competitive game, which I am certain this one will be. Give me the UCLA Bruins getting 4.5-points tonight on the road!