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College Basketball Pick


The first time these teams played, it kind of opened the public eye to how susceptible UCLA could be against a good defense and also how good Arizona could be going forward. One month ago, the Wildcats went into Pauley Pavilion and left with a 96-85 win, the only loss the Bruins have had at home this season. Since, both teams have been up-and-down, with UCLA losing at USC in the following game, but beating the Trojans by 32 last weekend and also coming back by a large deficit in a recent win against Oregon. Arizona fell flat at Oregon a few weeks ago and hasn't looked as dominant, despite just one loss since the win over UCLA.

In that first meeting, both teams battled it out in the first half, but Arizona took control in the second led by its defense and offense that did whatever it wanted. While both teams had a lot of points, the Wildcats had seven players with at least nine points, while the Bruins had just five reaching those numbers. And it wasn't like UCLA was bad as they still scored 1.16 points per possession and only turned the ball over six times. The difference was that UCLA was 10-of-31 from long range and Arizona was slightly more efficient at 9-of-20.

The Wildcats have yet to lose at home this season, but they haven't completely controlled games. In wins against Utah, Colorado, Stanford and Cal, they couldn't extend the lead past 10 points in any of those games. If that happens here, UCLA's nation-best offense will always have the ability to score enough to steal a late win. As for UCLA on the road, the Bruins fell at Oregon (buzzer beater) and USC, while also having trouble in a win at Utah. This game should be tight again, but if UCLA can't figure out Arizona's defense, it will be another Wildcat win.

Of note, Arizona has a couple players battling minor injuries with Dusan Ristic and Kadeem Allen, although both should be good to go. In that first meeting, Lonzo Ball may have been the best player, but Arizona had the better team. The Bruins will need more out of guys like TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh to win this game on the road. Those two combined for just 18 points and 12 rebounds in that first game, which is well under season averages as both average 8.7 boards per game and Leaf is at 16.7 ppg himself.

But those guys had trouble for a reason. Arizona has a ton of size, not only in Lauri Markkanen and Ristic, but also Chance Comanche off the bench. Markkanen was a difference on both ends as his ability to stretch the defense gave UCLA all kinds of problems. And while the Bruins have a great offense, they still struggle on the defensive end, no matter what the last couple games have shown. Holding USC and Oregon State to low scoring totals can't be compared to facing this Arizona team. With Allonzo Trier fully acclimated into the offense alongside Kobi Simmons, Markkanen and Rawle Alkins, UCLA doesn't have the tools to stop all of those guys.

A season sweep of UCLA would put Arizona in a good position to win the Pac-12 regular season title, still a game ahead of Oregon. UCLA has a great team, but Arizona's balance on both ends of the court could once again shine through between these two sides.

Our Pick - Arizona by 2

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