Wildcats Chasing Red-Hot Bruins
The Pac-12 is down but Saturday’s slate will feature a showdown between the conference’s only teams ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. The No. 5 UCLA Bruins (17-2, 8-0 Pac-12 ) will defend their 14-game winning streak, which is the third-longest nationally, on Saturday against the No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (16-3, 5-3).
This matchup, along with a March. 4 meeting, could decide who wins the Pac-12. The Bruins are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) over their last five games, while Arizona is 1-4 ATS in its last five games. Will UCLA further separate itself atop the standings, or will the Wildcats chip away at the Bruins’ lead?
Let’s check the latest college basketball news, stats, injury reports and college basketball lines for UCLA vs Arizona. We’ve got plenty of NCAA basketball picks for you to consider.
UCLA Poised for Final Four?
This could be coach Mick Cronin’s best team at UCLA. It has started 8-0 in conference play. The last time the Bruins did that they made the Final Four in the 2020-21 season. UCLA at +285 to make the Final Four is an enticing NCAAB bet.
Since back-to-back losses to Illinois (79-70) and Baylor (80-75) on Nov. 18 & 20, the Bruins have ripped off 14 consecutive wins and 11 were by double digits. UCLA has turned into one of the nation’s most dominant teams, ranking third in average score margin. Arizona could be the toughest test of the season, as the Wildcats rank 15th in average score margin and lead college basketball at 84.6 points per game.
The Bruins have fared well on the road, going 5-0 and 4-1 ATS. Plus, they won four of five games by double digits. Defense will be the key, as UCLA has held its last five opponents to 54.4 points per game. The Bruins also rank fifth in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency.
UCLA guard Amari Bailey, who averages 9.5 points per game, is questionable with a foot injury. The Bruins are 7-0 since Bailey’s injury on Dec. 21.
Wildcats Want to Play Fast
In coach Tommy Lloyd’s second season at Arizona, the Wildcats feature one of the nation’s top scoring offenses and best frontcourts once again. Arizona is ninth in offensive efficiency, eighth in shooting percentage and third in rebounds per game.
However, the offense has hit some rough spots over the last two weeks. On Jan. 7, the Wildcats lost 74-61 to Washington State as 12-point favorites. The offense shot only 31.7% and 4 of 25 on 3-pointers. On Jan. 14, Arizona had another ugly loss against Oregon (87-68) while shooting 37.5% from the field. The unit got back on track in the 81-66 win against USC on Thursday, shooting 48.3% and 12 of 24 from three.
UCLA is a must-win if the Wildcats want to win the Pac-12. They have already lost three conference games as favorites, while the Bruins are undefeated against Pac-12 opponents. Arizona must control the pace of this game. UCLA ranks in the bottom third of slowest tempos, while the Wildcats play at the 11th quickest pace nationally. Arizona’s identity is built on getting up plenty of field goal attempts and scoring in transition.
UCLA vs Arizona Game Injuries
UCLA vs Arizona Head-to-Head
This is a close series between powerhouses with UCLA leading at 51-44. Arizona snapped a six-game losing streak against the Bruins last season, winning back-to-back meetings while going 2-0 ATS.
UCLA vs Arizona Game Information
- Game: UCLA (17-2, 8-0 Pac-12) vs Arizona (16-3, 5-3)
- Location: McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
- Day/Time: Saturday, Jan. 21, 2 p.m. ET
- UCLA vs Arizona Live stream: TBS.com
UCLA vs Arizona Betting Lines
UCLA vs Arizona Picks & Prediction
UCLA has an impressive defense, but the best offense it has played in the last seven games was Washington State, which ranks 53rd in offensive efficiency. Arizona is a huge step up, ranking ninth in efficiency.
In addition, the Wildcats have a big frontcourt advantage. The starting lineup features 6-foot-11 forward Azuolas Tubelis (20.2 points and 9.4 rebounds) and 7-foot Oumar Ballo (16.1 points and nine rebounds). The Bruins’ frontcourt includes 6-foot-7 Jaime Jaquez Jr. (16.3 points and 7 rebounds) and 6-foot-10 Adem Bona (8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds). In addition, Jaquez has scored under 10 points in two of the last three games, and Tubelis comes off a 17-rebound performance.
Arizona ranks third in rebounds per game, compared to UCLA at 143rd. Take the Wildcats to win outright. Look for their frontcourt to win the day.