College basketball odds and betting picks for Thursday (2/3)


The 2021-22 college basketball season is in full swing, and conference play provides matchups between the top teams in the country. Below is my analysis and favorite bets for Thursday’s slate.


UCLA vs. Arizona

(Line: Arizona -7, DraftKings Sportsbook)

We have a huge rematch atop of the PAC 12 standings between west coast juggernauts UCLA and Arizona. UCLA took the first meeting at Pauley Pavilion pretty convincingly, winning by 16 points and holding the explosive Wildcat offense to 59 points (0.82 PPP). Will Arizona shoot the ball better at the McKale Center this time around? Probably, but I do think UCLA still has the schematic advantage here over Arizona mainly due to their ability to dictate the pace behind elite point guard Tyger Campbell. Which is why I will be siding with Mick Cronin again here on the road and getting a nice number of points.


Personnel availability will be important to monitor before tip, as sharpshooter Johnny Juzang has just become cleared to play after sitting out due to COVID-19 protocols, so conditioning may be an issue, and do-it-all forward Jaime Jaquez is dealing with an ankle sprain (early indications is that he will play through it, which I believe, since Jaquez is tough as nails). On the Arizona side, versatile forward Azuolas Tubelis continues to be hampered with a high ankle sprain that has limited his minutes over the last few weeks. In a high-stakes matchup, I don’t see nagging injuries to be a major factor and we should see both sides pretty much near strength. The key again for any game involving Arizona is shutting down their elite transition offensive attack (second nationally in average offensive possession length) and UCLA was able to completely dictate the pace behind Tyger Campbell. UCLA will again force this into a halfcourt game and make Arizona beat them by hitting jump shots. Ben Mathurin and especially Kerr Kriisa were both fairly cold in the first matchup and Shot Quality actually had Arizona slightly edging out the victory based on the quality of shots taken (UCLA typically performs bad in the Shot Quality metrics due to their high volume of mid-range jumpers) which does indicate we should see some positive regression there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arizona try to pound the ball inside more to Koloko and Ballo as well. But even so, I love the idea of getting 7 points behind Mick Cronin and Co. being able to enforce their will and execute their gameplan much easier than how Arizona wants to play.

The Pick: UCLA +7

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