While the Pac-12 is a major conference, basketball is not its strong suit. I’m not saying this because I have an East Coast bias — various independent rankings just don’t view the Pac-12 highly.
For example, only three Pac-12 teams are in the AP Top 25; Arizona, UCLA, and USC. In KenPom’s ratings, only Arizona and UCLA are in his top 25.
That said, the Pac-12 is still capable of producing quality basketball, which we should get tonight when the UCLA Bruins visit the Arizona Wildcats in one of the most exciting matchups of the year.
Please note that all college basketball odds and lines are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 3.
UCLA vs Arizona Predictions
Despite their relatively weak conference, both of these teams are considered among the best in the country. When they squared off last Tuesday, UCLA won by 16 despite being three-point underdogs at home.
The Wildcats are hosting the Bruins this time around, however, and enter the game as seven-point home favorites on our CBB gameday odds. The books believe last week’s rout was an aberration and are conceding even more points to Arizona due to their homecourt advantage.
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On the surface, Arizona’s overwhelming spread should be a turn-off. They lost badly to UCLA last week and have only beaten one top-25 team this season (Illinois).
I’m not fading them here, however, because I believe the Wildcats are a much better team than their 17-2 record suggests.
In last week’s loss to UCLA, for instance, the Bruins got lucky. Arizona destroyed them on the boards, outrebounding UCLA 21-4 on the offensive glass. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize on their extra possessions, however, losing the turnover battle 14-8 and shooting just 30.7% from the floor.
Arizona’s only other loss was by just four points against Tennessee in a game where the Wildcats nearly overcame a 13-point halftime deficit.
UCLA may have more goodwill among bettors based on their epic run during last year’s March Madness tournament, but Arizona is clearly the better team and should cover the spread at home here.
UCLA vs Arizona Prediction: Arizona 80, UCLA 67
UCLA vs Arizona Best Bets
Best Bet: Arizona -7 (-105) at BetWay
Wager: 0.5 Units
KenPom has Arizona winning by only five points, but I disagree with his projection. I believe that the Wildcats will win big against the Bruins.
Arizona’s average margin of victory is 21.5 points, which is second-best in the country behind Gonzaga. Even though most of their opponents are cupcakes, they should easily put away UCLA at home.
Seven points is a lot, but it’s worthwhile for our CBB bet of the day.
Best Bet: Arizona -3.5 2nd Half Spread (-105) at Caesars
Wager: 1.5 Units
One of my favorite exotic bets that I like to make in basketball is on the second-half spread. Sportsbooks pay a lot of attention to full-game sides and totals, but not as much time on halves.
Sportsbooks usually just take the full-game spread and divide it in half for both the first half and second half spreads with little consideration for how teams will play in each part of the game.
Many strong teams will put their best foot forward in the first half and play more conservatively with a lead in the second half. Arizona is not one of those teams, however.
The Wildcats’ average second-half scoring margin of +11.8 points is the best in the nation. Regardless of how the first half goes, they’re likely to cover the second-half spread.
Caesars has the best line at -3.5 (-105) of the major books, but if you’re in New Jersey or Colorado, I encourage you to also create a Tipico account, as they have the best line. Tipico is offering Arizona -3.5 at +105 odds or -2.5 at -115.
If you like bigger payouts or better odds, tonight is the perfect opportunity to create a Tipico account.