UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats at Betting Preview

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The game of the night in college basketball is a top-10 battle in the Pac-12 between the no. 3 UCLA Bruins and the no. 7 Arizona Wildcats. These two teams met less than ten days ago, with UCLA dominating in a 75-59 win. However, at home, the Wildcats are favored by seven points, with the over/under set at 147 points on Thursday night.

Including last week’s win over Arizona, the Bruins are riding a six-game winning streak. They’ve also won 11 of their last 12 games overall, helping to take them to the top of the Pac-12 standings. UCLA is 8-1 in league play, half a game ahead of Arizona, and 16-2 overall.

Meanwhile, Arizona bounced back from that loss to UCLA with a comfortable but competitive win over Arizona State over the weekend. The Wildcats have won six of their last seven games and are 17-2 on the season. However, they will have a hard time winning the Pac-12 if they lose on Thursday and get swept in the season series by the Bruins.

Cardiac Cats

Arizona ranks fourth nationally in scoring and second in assists, so the Wildcats know how to get up and down the court and share the basketball. Sophomore Bennedict Mathurin is the team’s best scorer at 17.2 points per game while shooting 36.5% from the three-point range. He’s joined in the backcourt by Kerr Kriisa, who is dishing out 5.1 assists per game but also leads the Wildcats in three-point field goals made.

Meanwhile, the Arizona frontcourt is absolutely loaded, including 7’1’’ center Christian Koloko, who has two double-doubles in his last three games. His backup Oumar Ballo is also a seven-footer who has scored at least 14 points in three of his last four games. However, the X-factor has become 6’11’’ forward Azuolas Tubellis, who is second on the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game but is averaging just six points per game over his last three games and missed a game during that stretch.

Back It Up

The Bruins attack teams with a trio of big guards who have varying skill sets. Johnny Juzang is the star, averaging 18.1 points per game, while Jules Bernard and Jaime Jaquez average 13.2 and 12.3 points per game, respectively, while also having the size to contribute on the boards. Of course, point guard Tyger Campbell is the floor general, averaging 4.5 assists per game while also being a capable scorer at 11.1 points per game.

However, UCLA is lacking in size outside of the team’s big guards. One of the few exceptions is 6’9’’ senior Cody Riley, who averages 8.3 points per game and scored 12 points in last week’s win over Arizona but isn’t a strong rebounder. Against Arizona’s size, the Bruins will also lean heavily on 6’10’’ center Myles Johnson, who provides a strong defensive presence but doesn’t contribute much offense.

Turn the Tables

The Wildcats didn’t look like themselves in last week’s loss to UCLA, as Kriisa was largely stifled, throwing the Arizona offense off-balance. While the Cats should be better at home, the size of UCLA’s backcourt clearly gave them problems. That should be enough to trust the Bruins to beat the spread as seven-point road underdogs on Thursday.

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