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UCLA Fights Utah, Own Rust

Bruins Need To Battle Against Long Disruption of Their Season

The UCLA Bruins are ranked in the Top 10, but they didn’t play like a Top-10 team last week. They lost at home to Oregon before beating Oregon State.

UCLA played those games in empty arenas due to COVID-19 fan attendance prohibitions in the state of California. UCLA has also had to deal with a COVID-19 pause to its season.

UCLA vs Utah Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds, Picks & Predictions
ATRICK MCDERMOTT / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

UCLA was supposed to play Arizona and Arizona State over New Year’s weekend, but those games had to be rescheduled. The Bruins didn’t play or practice for multiple weeks.

That lack of practice showed up clearly in the loss to Oregon. UCLA visits Utah, needing to not only beat the Utes, but overcome its own internal limitations and the disruptions to this 2022 season.

It’s a complicated situation for the Bruins. Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA odds to figure out which way to go in the sportsbook.

  • Game: UCLA (11-2) at Utah (8-10)
  • Location: Huntsman Center – Salt Lake City, UT
  • Day/Time: Thursday, 11 p.m. ET
  • Television: Fox Sports 1

UCLA Bruins at Utah Utes

Bruins Need to Dominate

The UCLA Bruins, coached by Mick Cronin, need to lean on their defense first and foremost. UCLA and Cronin like to play at a slower pace, with longer possessions and a style of play which is physical and rugged and demands everything from the opposition.

Quick shots and a loose, full-court style are not UCLA’s game, even though the Bruins were able to do exactly that against Gonzaga at the Final Four a year ago.

That was an outlier game for UCLA. The Bruins generally want to slow games down and get them into a halfcourt framework. UCLA therefore needs to get back to basics after the loss to Oregon. UCLA wasn’t always attentive on defense.

Oregon ballhandlers and cutters often beat the Bruins to the right spots on the floor. UCLA looked a step slow, and the COVID pause certainly played a role in that.

UCLA needs this game, against the last-place team in the Pac-12 Conference, to regain that defensive rhythm and connectedness, which makes the Bruins a dangerous team.

It’s less about the offense, much more about getting a defensive swagger back on the floor. They need this if they want to make an impact on the March Madness odds this year.

Utah Needs To Start from Scratch

The Utah Utes were not necessarily expected to make the NCAA Tournament this season, but they were expected to be in the bubble mix entering February. That is not the case.

Utah is dead last in the Pac-12 with only one conference win to this point in the season. Utah is 1-7 in the league and has lost home games to Washington and Washington State.

The Utes’ offense has been abysmal this season. The Utes have cratered late in games. They don’t have dribble-drive creators who can easily get to the rim and earn free throws.

The brutal loss to Washington occurred after the Utes had a 14-point lead near the 14-minute mark of regulation time. The offense simply withered, a recurring theme this season.

Utah just lost at Arizona State in a rugged, ugly game. The Utes can’t seem to transcend their offensive limitations.

Will Utah have a surprise in store for UCLA?

The Utes will treat UCLA as their Super Bowl, a huge game in which they will spill the tank and go all-out. However, UCLA’s defense versus Utah’s offense is a total mismatch.

UCLA and the under are both very good choices here if you bet online.

Parlay: UCLA -9 & Under (144)

Pick: Under (144)

Pick: UCLA -9

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