College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Arizona vs. UCLA (Tuesday, January 25)
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
- No. 3 Arizona travels to L.A. to take on No. 7 UCLA in what could be the game of the year in the Pac-12.
- The Wildcats are unbeaten in league play while the Bruins have one loss at the hands of Oregon.
- D.J. James breaks down why he's backing the Cats on the road.
Arizona vs. UCLA Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Arizona Wildcats find themselves at No. 3 in the most recent AP Poll and have surprised much of the college basketball world with their play.
They will take to the road to Los Angeles to play UCLA, which unlike Arizona, has had much tighter matchups in conference play.
The Bruins are still the second-best team in the Pac-12, but Arizona will be a test of their true strength against the upper echelon of the NCAA.
Even without Azuolas Tubelis (due to an ankle injury), the Wildcats dropped 96 points on the California Bears. Oumar Ballo displayed how deep the Arizona bench is, and this is why backing the Wildcats is the correct call in this famed Pac-12 rivalry.
Arizona has proven it belongs with the Gonzaga’s and the Baylor’s of college basketball this season. The Wildcats have done so with their seemingly endless supply of big men.
This is the first variable which could play into their favor in this matchup. With Tubelis, this line would be closer to Haslam’s -6 line, than KenPom’s -2. UCLA has the length on the wings, but Tubelis, Christian Koloko and Ballo outsize Myles Johnson & Co.
Arizona crashes the glass on offense at a clip of 35.9%, while UCLA lands 24.3% of defensive rebounds. Although this is good for the Bruins, Arizona still has a major edge. With Tubelis, the edge is even greater.
This will expand particularly on the defensive end. UCLA only shoots 50.1% inside the 3-point arc. Arizona is elite when it comes to defending inside the paint.
Again, this takes a step back with no Tubelis, but Koloko and Ballo can handle the pressure. UCLA may not take a ton of 3s, but since it can shoot over 36% from downtown, it will be forced to manufacture points from downtown in this one.
The Wildcats will thrive with their notable pace. They rank second in KenPom’s Adjusted Tempo metric versus UCLA’s 186th ranking. The Bruins might have trouble managing their way back into this game if Arizona is leading early.
As touched on above, UCLA can shoot the ball from beyond the arc. The Bruins hit 36.2% of their 3s.
Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell and David Singleton hit above 35% from outside this season. This gives the Bruins a litany of options to exploit the comparably weak perimeter defense for the Wildcats.
Arizona will have to do better than its usual 3-point percentage defense to contain the UCLA attack. This could be a concern in backing Arizona.
UCLA also allows 3s to fall for the opposition, though. In fact, opponents are shooting 33.7% from downtown against the Bruins this season. If anything, this negates the outside advantage they may have had.
UCLA is also much better at keeping control over the ball. The Bruins only turn it over on 14.1% of possessions, compared to Arizona’s 17.9%. This is not necessarily bad for Arizona, but relative to the Wildcats’ ranking in every other metric, it is definitely a weakness.
Still, UCLA is not very good at turning opponents over (19.5%), but it may have a slight edge in this department. Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa and Bennedict Mathurin all turn it over more than two times per game. Arizona will need to keep it clean.
Arizona vs. UCLA Betting Pick
Arizona has a significant height advantage, which will provide it multiple second scoring chances on the glass. If Tubelis misses the game, the Wildcats are a bit more short-handed, but Koloko and Ballo can split the down low duties, like they did against Cal.
Arizona can match the UCLA outside attack, so this negates one of UCLA’s major strengths. Arizona’s interior defense is elite and will continue to be here.
Take the Wildcats at -2 and play it to -4.