Odds & Pick for UCLA vs. Arizona Basketball: Betting Value on Saturday’s Pac-12 Over/Under
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4).
- UCLA travels to Tuscon to take on the Arizona Wildcats in Saturday night's premier Pac-12 college basketball game, which tips off at 9 p.m. ET.
- Mick Cronin and the Bruins will attempt to bounce back from the offensive thrashing they received on Thursday night against cross-town rivals USC.
- College basketball analyst BJ Cunningham breaks down the odds and offers his comprehensive betting analysis for the matchup, including why he's taking the under 139.5.
UCLA vs. Arizona Odds
Mick Cronin finally has UCLA back to powerhouse status in the Pac-12.
UCLA is 4-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since the 2012-13 season. https://t.co/v3mRWmMqZf
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 8, 2021
Although the Bruins only seem to know how to win close games, they are still atop the Pac-12 standings. However, the Bruins’ run to the top has been a bittersweet one, because their lone senior and best player Chris Smith is out for the season with a torn ACL. UCLA has played well in its previous two games without Smith, but Arizona will be a whole different animal.
Arizona fell apart in the second half against USC on Thursday, allowing the Trojans to capture a 87-73 win on the road. The Wildcats’ resume took a hit a result, as the team yet again failed to deliver a win against a quality opponent. Of Arizona’s nine wins, only one has come against a team ranked in the top 100 of KenPom’s rankings (No. 19 Colorado on Dec. 28).
The team has self-imposed a postseason ban for 2020-21, which stirs up questions regarding the team’s motivation for the remainder of conference play. So, how the Wildcats handle the recent loss to USC should be revealing.
When UCLA Has The Ball
Mick Cronin’s offense has been the the best in the Pac-12, ranking 12th in offensive efficiency. The Bruins simply do everything well: UCLA shoots a high percentage from all over the court, takes care of the ball, and crashes the offensive glass at a high rate.
However, the of loss Chris Smith is going to have a major impact. The Bruins have leaned on Smith during the past two seasons as the team’s go-to scorer on offense, and he reports a usage rate above 25%. He is also the only senior on UCLA’s roster, so losing his experience and leadership is going to be blow for the Bruins.
Arizona has been defending pretty well this season, but USC’s offense tore the Wildcats defense to shreds on Thursday. The Trojans torched the ‘Cats for 1.16 points per possession, and the team shot over 58% from the field.
The way to beat this Arizona defense is via penetration. In the team’s two losses, the Wildcats have allowed opponents to shoot better than 55% from inside the arc. That defensive deficiency plays right into the Bruins’ hands: Interior shots comprise 67% of UCLA’s field goal attempts.
When Arizona Has The Ball
Arizona’s offense has two main strengths:
- The Wildcats grab offensive rebound at a ridiculous 36.7% rate, ranks 18th in Division-I basketball. They are the 11th-tallest team in the country, so they use that to their advantage.
- Arizona gets to the free throw line at a 44.8% rate, which ranks 13th highest rate in the country. However, the Wildcats are only shooting 69.8% from the charity stripe, which needs to improve if they intend to rely on free throws for a large percentage of their points.
Mick Cronin is a defensive coach by nature; but for whatever reason, the Bruins have been terrible on defense this season. UCLA’s opponents are shooting a cool 51.6% from inside the arc, which is going to be a problem against Arizona. The Wildcats attempt over 68% of their field goals from 2-point range.
UCLA also struggles to force turnovers, reporting among the lowest turnover and steal rates in the Pac-12. Thats going to be an issue against an Arizona team that has done a good job of holding onto the ball this season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
UCLA plays at one of the slowest paces in the country and should be able to control the tempo — as the Bruins have successfully done through each of their first four conference games. Therefore, I think this game is going to be far lower-scoring than expected.
I project the game total at 136.75 points, which offers sufficient value for me to snag the Under 139.5 available at BetMGM.
Pick: Under 139.5 or better