Villanova vs. UCLA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Friday’s Huge College Basketball Matchup
Andy Lewis & Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Villanova Wildcats guard Justin Moore (5) and UCLA Bruins guard Johnny Juzang (3).
- The biggest matchup of the season thus far takes center stage Friday when UCLA takes on Villanova.
- Our staff has come through with its four best bets in this monster showdown.
- Check out below the betting angles they've taken and see where they've found the most value.
No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 2 UCLA
The college basketball season is only three days old, and we already have a National Championship-esque matchup on our hands.
Jay Wright and the No. 4 Villanova Wildcats head to Westwood to take on Mick Cronin’s No. 2 UCLA Bruins in Pauley Pavilion for some late-night fireworks at 11:30 p.m. ET.
The best part? This matchup is oozing with betting value.
Four of our college basketball experts broke the game down, finding four different angles to attack. Two of them are aligned on the Wildcats side, one other sees value on the Bruins, and the last likes the first-half total.
It sure didn’t take long for a top-five matchup to grace our television screens and betting cards, so let’s enjoy. Strap in, grab your favorite beverage and get your popcorn ready.
Villanova vs. UCLA Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Our Best Bets for No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 2 UCLA
Given the importance and excitement surrounding Friday night’s top-four college basketball showdown, it only makes sense that we bet on it. In that spirit, four members of our college basketball betting staff have delivered their top picks for Villanova vs. UCLA.
Two of our bettors are aligned on Nova’s side — one on the spread and one on the moneyline — while one bettor targets the Bruins and the other takes a look at the first-half total.
|Villanova ML +150|
|First Half Over 65|
I think the wrong team is favored here and absolutely love Villanova in this spot. The Wildcats have one of the oldest and most seasoned rosters in the country and it will not be phased by the cross-country trip to Los Angeles.
Villanova has shooters everywhere in its rotation, and this was shown on opening night when Nova knocked down 16 triples as a team against Mount St. Mary’s.
Collin Gillespie is the ideal floor general for this offense and Justin Moore is poised to have a monster junior year.
I think UCLA’s magical March run from a year ago has inflated its value in the market. The Bruins return a lot of weapons, but let’s remember, this was a team that almost missed the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
Ultimately I think the Wildcats have the more complete roster and I think you’ll see Jay Wright very motivated to have his team make a statement to start the year.
I’m taking the points and playing +4.5, but I would also endorse a play on Villanova money line at +150.
Pick: Villanova +4.5 (Bet to +3)
Villanova ML +150
I am entering this season more skeptical of this UCLA team than most, including oddsmakers. The Bruins had a miracle run in the second half of a game in the First Four against Michigan State. The Bruins survived and advanced last March, but if they hadn’t, would there be nearly as much excitement about a team that lost four straight entering the NCAA Tournament?
It’s a tricky hypothetical. March success can’t be ignored, though, I’m going to remain a little cynical of a six-game stretch where UCLA shot 40% from 3-point range, compared to just 26% by the Bruins’ opponents.
Villanova, meanwhile, is one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the country. In the team’s opener against Mount Saint Mary’s, Justin Moore looked like he’d made the level of offseason improvement that could spark the Wildcats from the class of the Big East into a real championship contender.
Villanova’s current challenge is its young frontcourt. Fortunately for Nova, UCLA’s Cody Riley will miss the game with an injury. I love Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson for Mick Cronin — and he could control the glass and protect the rim in this game — but he’s not the kind of scoring big that will trouble Villanova.
The Cats on the road won’t be afraid of the task at hand. If the line keeps creeping above +4, jump on it, but I feel confident enough to simply recommend the moneyline.
Pick: Villanova Moneyline +150 (Bet to +125)
UCLA enters the 2022 season ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation. This is the Bruins’ highest preseason ranking since the 2009 campaign.
The Bruins are returning the most important pieces from their Final Four team that congealed so nicely later in the season. After going 22-10 last season, all five starters have returned this season. In fact, all 10 players who played in the NCAA Tournament last year have returned.
The trio of junior starters, Johnny Juzang, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr., have all been named to the preseason Wooden Award watch list. Speaking to the immense amount of talent on the Bruins’ roster, only two other schools, Gonzaga and Kansas, have three players named to the Wooden Award watch list.
Juzang, a 6-foot-7 guard, was UCLA’s leading scorer last season and averaged 22.8 points per game in six NCAA Tournament outings. Head coach Mick Cronin has done an excellent job of assembling a versatile and deep team that showcased their ability to win a number of different ways last season.
It goes without saying, but Villanova’s reputation truly precedes itself.
The Jay Wright-led Wildcats have won seven of the last eight Big East regular-season titles, three of the last four Big East Tournaments and have advanced to the Sweet 16 in three of the last five years.
They will very clearly be in the mix this year, however, question marks linger.
The hang-up is going to be Nova’s ability to reload after losing Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Graduate-student guard Collin Gillespie is the unquestioned leader of the Wildcats and is back for his final season after suffering a knee injury last season. Villanova will be a good team, but there are production issues to backfill and this will be a big test.
My model is projecting UCLA as 2.59-point favorites, projecting a slight edge over the Vegas number. Home-court advantage is huge in college hoops, with the home team winning outright approximately 68% of the time.
Home-court advantage, a late start and a tough time change are all going to be working against Villanova.
Lay the points as the Bruins’ returning core and bench depth will be the differentiator on Friday night.
Pick: UCLA -2.5
First Half Over 65
By Doug Ziefel
These two teams came out absolutely on fire in their season openers. Both teams shot the lights out as they dominated and each rolled to 30-plus point victories. Though we are working with the smallest sample size, there are takeaways from each box score that could point to how this marquee matchup will play out.
Let’s start with the Bruins. Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Jules Bernard all were in double figures and highly efficient from the field. Where they shined, though, was from behind the three-point line. The trio went 8-for-15 and accounted for 62 percent of the team’s 3-point makes.
There is good reason to believe that the Bruins’ shooting success will carry over. Though Villanova dominated Mount St. Mary’s on the scoreboard, the gap was not so large in the effective field goal department.
With a drastic step up in competition, the Wildcats will have to make a more concerted effort to close out on the Bruins or the game could open up early.
As for the Wildcats, they have the reputation of being a team that lives and dies by the 3. They were living the high life against the Mountaineers. Villanova shot 53 percent from 3-point range, which has them sitting pretty at sixth in the nation.
If how the Bruins defended the three in their first game is truly telling, Nova will be able to shoot at will again. The Bruins allowed the Roadrunners to shoot over 41 percent from behind the arc, putting them 233rd in opponent 3-point percentage.
With both teams being able to shoot effectively against one another this first half total seems a few ticks too low. Add in that both teams will be fired up for the atmosphere of this game, and we could have a thrilling shootout in the beginning of this ball game.