College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Back a Low-Scoring Matchup Between Ohio State & UCLA
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio State Buckeyes standout Justice Sueing.
Ohio State vs. UCLA Odds
|Ohio State Odds||+1.5 [BET NOW]|
|UCLA Odds||-1.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+108 / -126 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||133.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||4:15 p.m. ET|
Ohio State looks to rebound from a midweek loss at Purdue when it battles UCLA on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.
The Buckeyes cruised through an easy schedule in their first five games before hitting Wednesday’s roadblock.
Losing talented players like Kaleb Wesson and Luther Muhammed was always going to be difficult to overcome. However, Chris Holtman added depth via the transfer portal and Ohio State is set to be a top-25 team again this season.
UCLA had its own share of growing pains in head coach Mick Cronin’s first season, but the Bruins rattled off nine consecutive wins in February to silence the critics.
Yet, that late-season run notwithstanding, Cronin allowed major talent to slip through the cracks, as top-20 recruit Daishen Nix opted to turn pro.
Cronin still has plenty of talent on the roster, with UCLA poised to be near the top of the Pac-12 standings. The Bruins started off their season with a blowout loss to San Diego State, but have since rattled off five wins in a row, including a home victory over Marquette the last time they were in action.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Last season, the Buckeyes’ bread and butter was their defense. Holtman deploys a pack-line style defense, similar to Virginia, and it has done wonders.
Ohio State has finished inside the top 25 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency every year since Holtman’s arrival. Similar to Virginia, Ohio State plays at a snail’s pace, ranking 318th in tempo, forcing its opponent to make ever possession count.
Offensively, Holtman’s squad should be able to match last year’s numbers. The Buckeyes finished the season as the No. 13 team in the country in terms of offensive efficiency. This year, they’re already ranked 15th.
Cal transfer Justice Sueing and Harvard transfer Seth Towns are huge additions for Holtman, as they both averaged 14+ points per game at their respective, previous stops.
Ohio State is going through some injury issues at the moment, as leading scorer and rebounder EJ Liddell is questionable to play. Liddell has missed the last two games for the Buckeyes. Seth Towns could be out as well. If those two are absent, it’s hard to imagine the Buckeyes not continuing to struggle.
Cronin’s squad has completely rebounded from the blowout loss to San Diego State to begin the season. The Bruins are humming offensively, ranking 14th in offensive efficiency, while playing at one of slowest tempos in the country (336th in AdjTempo per Ken Pom).
The biggest issue for UCLA last season was its terrible shooting and defending from the perimeter. The Bruins shot only 32.2% from deep and allowed opponents to shoot more than 38%, which I’m sure drove a guy like Cronin insane.
So far this season, the Bruins have improved in both of those areas, specifically defensively, as they are only allowing 27.6% from deep range.
UCLA brings back almost everybody from last season and added sharp shooter Johnny Juzag from Kentucky via the transfer portal. So, the Bruins are loaded and ready to contend in the Pac-12 this season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With how good these defenses are and how slow a pace they play, I think this going to be a lower scoring game than expected. If Liddell is out again for Ohio State, that will drastically hamper the Buckeyes’ offense in a negative way.
I have the total projected at 131.99 points for this game, so I think there is value on under 135.5 points.
Pick: Under 135.5 points (down to 135.5).