College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: UCLA vs. Arizona (Thursday, February 3)
Rebecca Noble/Getty Images. Pictured: Azuolas Tubelis.
- Arizona is a home favorite as it seeks revenge against UCLA.
- The Bruins dominated the first matchup against the Wildcats in Los Angeles, but they may have benefited from an off-shooting night by Arizona.
- Charlie DiSturco breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
UCLA vs. Arizona Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The stage is set for Arizona to get its chance at revenge, as the Wildcats welcome UCLA to McKale Memorial Center in a battle of Pac-12 brutes.
In the first matchup, the Bruins dominated at Pauley Pavilion, blowing out Arizona by double digits. UCLA shot over 50% from the floor while holding the Wildcats to an abysmal 34%.
The Bruins enter this matchup fresh off a blowout win against Stanford without Johnny Juzang, and Jaime Jaquez left that game early because of an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats responded with an 11-point win over Arizona State. Thursday night’s winner will take hold of first place in the Pac-12 in what is expected to be the best game of the night.
Can Arizona avenge its road loss against UCLA, or should we back Mick Cronin’s red-hot Bruins?
There is no team hotter in the Pac-12 right now than UCLA. Since their home loss in overtime to Oregon, the Bruins have ripped off six straight wins, including a 16-point victory over Arizona and a 22-point beatdown of Stanford.
The biggest difference from this year’s team to last is the defense. UCLA ranks inside the top 10 in adjusted efficiency and has given up more than 65 points just once in conference play.
Offensively, not much has changed. The Bruins do not make many mistakes — fifth in turnover rate — and take their time getting into sets. While most of UCLA’s points come from attacking inside, they can also burn the opposition from 3-point land, which is clear by how it shot 47% from beyond the arc against Arizona in the first matchup.
While Jaquez has struggled to find his stroke, Tyger Campbell has made a massive leap, connecting on 42% of 3s — a 17% increase from last season.
It is important to note that Jaquez is questionable for this game because of that ankle injury. If he can’t go — though I’d bet he returns with a minutes restriction — UCLA will be without its starting power forward who had 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals in the win over Arizona.
Meanwhile, Juzang cleared COVID protocols and returned to practice Wednesday after missing the Bruins’ last two games.
Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country when it was beaten from start to finish by UCLA. Picture as bad an offensive game one could’ve played in a matchup of powerhouses, and the Wildcats came close to that.
Arizona shot 34% from the field and 25% from 3-point land. Bennedict Mathurin, the Wildcats’ most efficient and best scorer, finished 5-of-22. Starting point guard Kerr Kriisa was 0-for-12. You get the picture.
But take a deeper look at the game, and it was nothing more than an off-night. Arizona’s looks were often open and ShotQuality actually predicted an Arizona win 58% of the time.
— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) January 30, 2022
Do not be phased by one game. The Wildcats still have an efficient, fast-paced offense that feasts on the inside. They assist on 66% of all made field goals and are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country.
Arizona’s defense remains inside the top 10 in terms of adjusted efficiency and holds opponents to just 39.2% on 2-point field goals. That’s No. 1 in the entire country by nearly one whole percent.
Tack on the fact that Azuolas Tubelis wasn’t 100 percent — he’s been working back from an ankle sprain — and I expect a different Arizona team on Thursday night.
The Wildcats have been held under 70 points just twice this season, albeit the last two games. Much of that has to do with Tommy Lloyd’s team struggling from beyond the arc.
In those last two games? Arizona is 10-for-51. The Wildcats are too high-powered offensively, consistently creating open looks through ball movement, for these struggles to last over the long haul. Variance comes and goes, and they’re due for some positive regression from 3.
Also of note: In Pac-12 play, Arizona is No. 1 in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency and boasts both the best 2-point offense and defense. That’s still elite, and that UCLA loss should be held in light regard.
UCLA vs. Arizona Betting Pick
To me, this is the perfect spot to back Arizona in a revenge spot at home.
The Wildcats are due for a bounce-back performance after their recent shooting woes. They’re a high-powered offense with the best assist rate in the country. Creating open looks for efficient shooters is all that matters. The shots will fall.
Tack on the inherent height advantage for Arizona, and it should dominate the boards once again. Last game against UCLA, the Wildcats out-rebounded the Bruins, 49-34, including 21 on the offensive glass.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding UCLA, as well. Jaquez’s status remains in doubt and if he plays, he’s likely held to a limited role. His absence would be a gigantic one for the Bruins, who will be without a strong defender and role player.
That’ll force Cronin’s hands. Freshman Peyton Watson should get extended run, but it’s a hard ask for his first ever start in a raucous environment. He could go big with Cody Riley and Myles Johnson, but Tubelis should be able to stretch the floor and break down the slower, bigger duo.
Juzang also returns from a weeklong absence, and that time off could lead to some rust for the star.
There’s just too much going against UCLA, which has to travel to Tucson and face an angry Arizona team, for me to trust them in this spot.
I think the energy at McKale Memorial Center is going to be high and Arizona will start out of the gate hot.
While the line of (-6.5) is too much for me with Jaquez’s status in question — if he’s out I would take the spread, too — I like the Wildcats to take home the first half in dominant fashion.
Pick: Arizona 1H (and Arizona -6.5 if Jaquez is out)
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