UCLA vs Utah Odds, Picks: How to Bet This Pac-12 Affair
Pictured: Utah Utes forward Ben Carlson. (Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
UCLA vs. Utah Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Pac-12 leading and No. 4 UCLA Bruins head to Salt Lake City to battle the Utah Utes on Thursday night. UCLA won the first meeting 68-49 on January 12th in Westwood. Utah did not have leading scorer Branden Carlson in that game and will be without both its second leading scorer, Gabe Madsen, and its floor general, Rollie Worster, in this matchup.
UCLA and Utah are the top two teams in the Pac-12 in scoring defense. The first meeting had 117 points, despite UCLA shooting nearly 50% from the field. Is another low-scoring affair in the cards?
Dating back to his time at Cincinnati, head coach Mick Cronin’s teams have generally been driven by their defense. This year, Cronin has his best defense since arriving in Westwood as UCLA is second nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
UCLA is great at pressuring opponents into turnovers. It ranks fifth nationally in turnover percentage and 28th with 8.7 steals per game. Guard Jaylen Clark leads the Pac-12 and ranks sixth nationally with 2.7 steals per game.
However, the Bruins are potent on the offensive end as well, ranking 24th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are 26th in turnover percentage and average just 10.4 turnovers per game.
UCLA has four double digit scorers and is led by guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., who is averaging 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season. In the first meeting, Jaquez Jr. struggled offensively as he scored eight points and finished 3-for-11 from the field. However, he did pull down 12 rebounds.
Center Adem Bona had 15 points and eight rebounds as the Bruins took advantage of Carlson being out of the lineup. In that game, UCLA won the rebounding battle 40-26 and had 14 offensive rebounds. The Bruins are 21st nationally in offensive rebounding percentage this season.
Utah had a rough trip to Arizona last week as it was swept by Arizona and Arizona State and failed to cover both games. Utah scored just 121 points in those two games, a continuation of a prolonged power outage in Salt Lake City. Over its past seven games, Utah has cracked 70 points just twice and is averaging 63.7 points per game.
That is partially because of its slow pace as Utah ranks 241st in adjusted tempo and averages 18 seconds per offensive possession. However, the Utes have fallen to 210th in effective field goal percentage and 220th in 2-point percentage. They are 99th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
To get its offense rolling, Utah will likely turn to Carlson early and often. Carlson is averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on 52% shooting. He also serves as the team’s defensive anchor and ranks second in the Pac-12 with 2.1 blocks per game.
Utah ranks fifth nationally in effective field goal percentage defense, eighth in 3-point percentage defense and 13th in 2-point percentage defense.
UCLA vs. Utah Betting Pick
In the first meeting, the total closed at 136.5 and the game finished under by nearly 20 points. The oddmakers have adjusted by knocking six points off the total this time. However, that may not be enough.
This is going to be a low-possession game between teams that prefer to play slow — both UCLA and Utah rank in the 240s in tempo. UCLA may have success forcing turnovers — it forced 16 in the first meeting. However, even with 16 turnovers forced and 14 offensive rebounds, UCLA still only had 60 field goal attempts. It also may not be as efficient playing on the road in a hostile environment.
UCLA should be successful in limiting Utah’s offense. The Utes have missed Madsen’s shooting and floor spacing. They have struggled shooting in the six games he has been out. Now, Utah’s offense will face its toughest test since Madsen has been out and will do so without its point guard as well.
The under has hit four of each team’s past six games. It has also hit in four of the past six games in the series. I expect both trends to reach five of seven after Thursday night.
Pick: Under 131
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