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#10 Arizona at UCLA

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2/26/11
 
The UCLA Bruins (20-8, 11-4 Pac-10) seem poised for a return to the Top 25 but will likely need to beat the 10th-ranked Arizona Wildcats (23-5, 12-3) on Saturday to earn the respect of the pollsters.  The Bruins rebounded from a 76-72 overtime loss at Cal on Sunday by crushing Arizona State 71-53 on Thursday for their seventh win in eight games.
 
Arizona is the only other team to beat UCLA in the last 13 games, winning 85-74 at home in the first meeting on January 27.  The Bruins are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games with the UNDER cashing five times, including their latest victory.  Malcolm Lee led the team with 16 points against the Sun Devils, making 5 of 10 shots from the field, including 3 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc.  Tyler Honeycutt added 13 points and also made three 3-pointers for UCLA.   Three other Bruins scored in double figures, something no Arizona State player accomplished.
 
While UCLA seems to be a good bet to make the NCAA tournament following their first postseason absence in six years, the Wildcats have bigger goals ahead after seeing their 25-year streak of making the Big Dance snapped with an opening-round loss to the Bruins in last year’s Pac-10 tournament.  However, Arizona saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end with a 65-57 loss at USC on Thursday as Derrick Williams was held to a season-low eight points.
 
Williams (19.7 points per game) is one of the favorites to win Pac-10 Player of the Year honors but did not play like it against the Trojans even though he did finish with a team-high 11 rebounds in the defeat.  The Wildcats led 28-25 at halftime but faded down the stretch as they dropped to 1-4 all-time at the Galen Center.
 
Only two Arizona players scored in double figures against USC, as Jesse Perry totaled 12 points and Kevin Parrom had 10.  The Wildcats simply did not have an answer for Nikola Vucevic, who scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the Trojans.
 
The team went 6-1-1 ATS during the winning streak with the OVER going 6-1 in the previous seven games before Thursday.  Arizona is just one game ahead of UCLA in the Pac-10 standings but has a much easier road remaining with two home games left against Oregon State (4-10) and Oregon (7-7) while the Bruins must travel to both Washington (10-5) and Washington State (7-8) to end the regular season.

This was written prior to lines being posted for Saturday. Our model has this game dead even. From a betting standpoint, that simply means we would take whichever team is the underdog and would consider it an official play at +4 or better.

Predicted Score UCLA 72 Arizona 72

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