Neither UCLA nor Villanova will be coming into this matchup extremely confident. Tthat means each team will be searching for a win to get back on track, leading to interesting NCAA Basketball predictions.
UCLA enters the game as a 3-point underdog. The total has been set at 128½ points.
In the Bruins’ last game, they scrapped by against UC Riverside, winning 66-65, needing a last-second basket by Dylan Andrews. On the other hand, the Wildcats have lost three straight, most recently falling to Kansas State, 72-71, in overtime.
UCLA’s Last Few Games Tell Confusing Story
Before facing UC Riverside, it had seemed like UCLA was beginning to trend upward. In two of the three games leading up to facing UC Riverside, the Bruins lost but covered College Basketball spreads against Marquette and Gonzaga, ranked teams. They also dominated Chaminade, winning 76-48.
Those three games tell a completely different story from when UCLA faced UC Riverside. In the loss to Marquette, UCLA kept it close, only losing 71-69, forcing a tight finish with the fourth-ranked team. Then against Gonzaga, UCLA lost 69-65, covering a 4½- point spread.
However, the Bruins beat UC Riverside by one as 18½-point favorites. Part of the struggles could be attributed to head coach Mick Cronin missing the game due to COVID, compounded Berke Buyuktuncel, a role player, surfing an injury during play.
On top of that, Sebastian Mack suffered an injury at the end of the game, which could be concerning going forward, since he is the Bruins’ leading scorer at 14.7 points per game.
Mick Cronin told reporters that UCLA’s Berke Buyuktuncel (ankle) is OUT for Saturday’s game against Villanova.
Averages 5.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG.
Sebastian Mack (toe) is day-to-day.
Averages 14.7 PPG.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 5, 2023
Mack is the more crucial of the two injuries, but he should play against Villanova. His health will have a massive effect on NCAAB expert picks. On top of scoring the most points per game for UCLA, Mack is also averaging 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Villanova’s Quick Fall from Grace
At the start of 2023-24, it looked like Villanova was ready to make up for its poor play last season when it finished 17-17 record. The Wildcats got off to a hot start, going 6-1, picking up a win against ranked North Carolina. That was followed by another big win against Memphis, pushing the Wildcats into the AP Top 25.
However, that did not last, and since, Villanova has lost three straight games, being favored in College Basketball lines in each. The Wildcats have lost to Saint Joseph’s and Drexel, favored to win each by double digits, then falling to Kansas State.
The losses to Saint Joseph’s and Drexel are especially concerning for College Basketball odds because they are schools Villanova should have beaten. On top of that, in the loss to Kansas State, Justin Moore suffered an injury. Moore is second in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game, and leading the team in assists at 2.2.
Villanova has had issues with Moore, and not having him could make matters much worse. The good thing is that leading scorer Eric Dixon, who averages 14.4 points per game, will be available. On top of that, after Moore was injured against Kansas State, Jordan Longino and Hakim Hart came up big, combining 26 points off the bench.
UCLA vs Villanova Best Bet
It is hard to select either team for College Basketball picks, with both sides not coming into this game off of a good performance or having a complete roster. However, the one thing that UCLA does have over Villanova is that Mack seems likely to play, and it won its last game. That could be all the Bruins need to win a close game over the Wildcats, even on the road.
NCAAB Best Bet: UCLA +3
UCLA vs Villanova Game Information
- Game: UCLA (5-2) vs. Villanova (6-4)
- Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Day/Time: Saturday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m. ET
- UCLA vs Villanova Live Stream: TBS.com
UCLA vs Villanova Betting Lines
Questions of the Day
Which player could score the most points?
Both teams should have their leading scorers, allowing Sebastian Mack and Eric Dixon to lead this game in scoring.
Is there any standout prop bet for player performances in the UCLA vs Villanova game?
Because Justin Moore is out for Villanova, that might put more on the shoulders of Eric Dixon to perform, leading to him potentially having a big game.