Kentucky Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins
Date and Time: Friday, March 24, 2017, 9:39 p.m. ET
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
College Basketball Odds
Kentucky vs. UCLA TV Coverage: CBS
College Basketball Odds
Kentucky yet again dominated the SEC in both the regular season and the postseason, but rather than this being a side note, it has taken on greater meaning with the performance of the conference in the NCAA Tournament so far. The Wildcats are one of three SEC teams to make the Sweet 16 and both South Carolina and Florida have very favorable matchups in their games, making it possible to send all three to the Elite Eight.
The Wildcats have been a mixed bag against the spread this year, sitting at 18-17-1 ATS due to the amount of large spreads they are asked to cover out in Vegas. What has been a very reliable bet though is the under. Under has hit in eight of the last nine Kentucky games dating back to February 21, but it would take some real guts to bet the under here after the teams combined for 189 points in the first meeting.
UCLA started the season strong, covering plenty of spreads in non-conference action, but has had a harder time covering the number as the season has progressed. The Bruins went a paltry 6-14 ATS in Pac-12 play including the conference tournament and failed to cover the number against Kent State as well in the opening round of March Madness.
Lonzo Ball and the Bruins got a scare from Cincinnati on Sunday, trailing the Bearcats at halftime by 3 before draining threes in the second half to pull away. All told, UCLA hit 11 threes in the game with Ball hitting 4 and Bryce Alford knocking down 4 to give the Bruins both the win and the cover.
Typically, it’s hard to get excited for regular season college basketball, but the Kentucky-UCLA game was a treat for everyone back in December. The Wildcats were seen as a far better team than the Bruins and were favored by 11 points on the day, but the Bruins showed the world they meant business on that day.
Although this young UCLA squad turned the ball over 17 times, with Ball himself committing 6 of the turnovers, the Bruins shot the lights out from the floor and ended up upsetting Kentucky on its home court. Six UCLA players ended up with at least 13 points as the team combined to hit 53 percent from the floor and 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. It was a fantastic shooting performance that eclipsed the coming out party for Malik Monk.
Monk showed how special he was on the night, knocking down 10 of his 19 jumpers to keep the Wildcats in the game against the hot shooting Bruins, but the rest of his teammates couldn’t keep up. He also recorded five steals, most against Ball, during his time on the court and showed that Ball wasn’t the only freshman worth keeping an eye on.
Kentucky vs. UCLA Free Picks
Monk and Ball are the two big names heading into this game, but the supporting casts are of utmost importance as well. UCLA has a big man with range in TJ Leaf and Alford can get hot from three as well, while Kentucky has a banger in Edrice Adebayo, a set-up man in De’Aaron Fox, and a supplementary scorer in Isaiah Briscoe. These players will determine the winner in this one.
Kentucky may have lost the game earlier in the season, but will win the way with a victory in this battle. Adebayo is far more physical than Leak and can get him in foul trouble, while Fox can dribble and create enough to get Kentucky past UCLA in a wild one.
Kentucky vs. UCLA ATS Pick: Grab Kentucky to get some sweet revenge
Kentucky vs. UCLA Score Prediction: Kentucky 86, UCLA 80