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College Basketball

Pointspread Pick


Things haven’t gone to plan for UCLA and Oregon this season and this is the type of Game each team needs. Both look to be headed to the NCAA Tournament bubble with losses to other bubble teams possibly keeping each team out of the dance. UCLA lost at home to Colorado last week and Oregon fell at Oregon State. Those are the kinds of Games you can’t afford to lose too many of.

For the most part, UCLA seems to always be in a blowout, one way or another. Whether it’s winning or losing, the deficit in Pac-12 Games has more often than not been near double digits. Even in the double overtime loss at Stanford, the Bruins lost by eight points. With a winning record in Conference play, it’s still been hard to trust this team without any legit road wins on the resume.

On the other end of that, Oregon already lost at home to Utah by 10 points so there’s no trusting them, either. The Ducks need this win a bit more with the only legit win on their resume being the trip to Arizona State.

With neither team doing one thing particularly well, this will be a hard Game to project. UCLA’s offense is slightly better, but Oregon’s defense is slightly better. The biggest discrepancy may be UCLA’s free-throw shooting, converting fewer than 70 percent of its attempts. On the opposite end of that, Oregon is one of the best in the country at 78 percent and if this Game comes down to the wire, that will definitely help.

The biggest thing for the Ducks will be stopping whatever Aaron Holiday does. He’s been everything for the UCLA offense averaging close to 19 points and five assists per Game. In the loss to Colorado, he was held in check for 10 points, Four assists and six turnovers and Oregon needs to replicate that defensive performance. Payton Pritchard will get the first task with Elijah Brown also possibly seeing time on Holiday. Conveniently, Pritchard (15 ppg) and Brown (13.9) are Oregon’s top scorers so making Holiday work on the defensive end could help out, as well.

But help from everyone but the guards may be the most important thing in this Game. Thomas Welsh averages a double-double, but he doesn’t have quite the talent to dominate if matched up with able defenders. That’s where Kenny Wooten, who is one of the best shot blockers in the country, and MiKyle Mcintosh come in. Both guys give up a few inches to Welsh, but Wooten’s blocking ability should give Welsh plenty of trouble.

Freshman Kris Wilkes is the other player to watch out for on UCLA. He provides size at the three spot while being a factor inside and also having the ability to shoot from deep. His matchup will be fun to watch, but again, Oregon has the guys to deal with him whether it’s Mcintosh or Troy Brown, and both have enough size to deal with Wilkes.

Keeping up on the scoreboard will be the biggest test for Oregon as this offense can go cold at any moment. That was seen in the losses to Oregon State (64 points) and Utah (56 points), in which no one was making shots. The good news is that UCLA doesn’t force turnovers and is middle of the country in three-point percentage allowed. If Pritchard can get going on the perimeter, that should open things up for the rest of the offense, especially the two Browns.

The Ducks are at home, but that didn’t mean much in the loss to Utah. In previous years, their athleticism has been a good tactic against what UCLA does offensively and they’ll hope that’s the case again, especially against Holiday at point.

Our Pick – UCLA +3.5

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