Stanford vs UCLA Odds, Pick, Prediction: NCAAB Betting Preview (Thursday, Feb. 16)

Stanford vs UCLA Odds, Pick, Prediction: NCAAB Betting Preview (Thursday, Feb. 16) article feature image

Soobum Im/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyger Campbell (10) of the UCLA Bruins.

Stanford vs UCLA Odds

Thursday, Feb. 16
11 p.m. ET
Stanford Odds
-112 / -108
-112 / -108
Updated odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

It's Pac-12 After Dark, ladies and gentlemen, and we've got a matchup that probably would not have grabbed many eyeballs if it wasn't for the events of the past weekend.

The Stanford Cardinal travels to Pauley Pavilion to take on the UCLA Bruins in the conclusion to the teams' regular-season series. The Cardinal are coming off an impressive home upset over the Arizona Wildcats.

Meanwhile, UCLA remains one of the hottest teams in college basketball during the last several weeks. After scuffling against Arizona and USC, Mick Cronin's group seems to have hit its stride right before March.

Is Stanford primed for a classic letdown following a huge upset, or can it carry over momentum from last weekend's breakthrough performance? The betting market suggests that Stanford vs UCLA will be a lopsided affair — but that may not be the case.

Let's see what betting value we can uncover by breaking down these teams.

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Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal enters Thursday night's game riding high after an unexpected upset win over Arizona, 88-79, on Saturday. Digging into this Stanford team, I noticed a couple of things that could help its case in Thursday's matchup with UCLA.

First and foremost, Stanford is certainly not as bad as its record suggests. Stanford's 11-14 record should be 15-10 according to Shot Quality. The Cardinal's +15.46-record luck also illustrates that some positive regression should continue to head their way. So, Saturday's win may not have been a fluke after all.

Some of this positive regression should stem from the offensive end of the floor. Stanford ranks 64th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (AdjO) per KenPom. Perhaps the charity stripe numbers will continue to improve; Stanford ranks 220th in Division-I in team free-throw percentage.

Containing UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. will be a challenge, considering the Cardinal's below-average size and length. Jaquez Jr. dropped 27 points for the Bruins in the first matchup between these teams. Stanford forward Spencer Jones must lead the charge in order for Stanford to pull off back-to-back upsets with a victory against the Bruins.

Tempo could also help Stanford cover this large point spread. Due to Stanford's pace of play, total possessions will be limited. So, the outcome may come down to Stanford's positive regression coming to fruition — or not.

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins continue to climb the AP rankings, currently ranked fourth entering Thursday's game against Stanford. There's a lot to love about this well-coached Bruins squad, and they certainly have made their case as one of the best teams in the country.

The numbers speak for themselves: UCLA ranks second in the country in defensive efficiency to complement its No. 24-ranked offensive unit.

Veterans Jaime Jaquez, Jaylen Clark and Tyger Campbell are the glue that keeps this Bruins team in the conversation as National Championship contenders.

However, UCLA may have some slight negative regression coming its way. Per Shot Quality, the Bruins report a negative-5.46-record luck. That's not too concerning, but it warrants monitoring moving forward.

Regardless, the pace and free throw shooting in this game will dictate whether or not UCLA can cover this big opening number. The Bruins rank 280th in adjusted tempo, and 197th in free throw rate.

In many of my other game previews, I have harped on the fact that free throw shooting has been an Achillies heel for many of college basketball's elite teams. We have yet another example of precisely that in the UCLA Bruins.

Stanford vs UCLA Betting Pick

The last thing I want to do is bet against UCLA. Earlier in this preview, I discussed Stanford's looming positive regression on offense, but the 'letdown spot' factor is too significant to ignore.

I also have major concerns regarding the Cardinal's length and physicality opposed to the Bruins. Both of these snails on offense could make this a lower-variance game as well. With all of these factors considered, I think the play here is under 131.

I expect a great defensive effort from UCLA, and I feel much safer tackling the total rather than the spread.

Pick: Under 131 ⋅ Play to 130

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 12, 2024 UTC