The UCLA Bruins will try to prove that they are worthy of a NCAA Tournament bid as they face Arizona State tonight in a game which the Bruins should win outright.
The UCLA Bruins
have fallen quite a long ways from the times in which they were consistently a
high seed in the NCAA Tournament. They weren't even in the field of 65 last season,
and they are trying to make sure that they get back into the field now that it
has expanded to 68 this season. The Arizona State Sun Devils shouldn't be
providing anything more than a small bump in the road in college basketball
betting action on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Frustration Setting In For Sun Devils
exactly been the year that Head Coach Herb Sendek thought he was getting into
at Arizona State. Sure, the Sun Devils were exactly preseason favorites to win
the conference title or anything like that, but they figured on doing better
than just 2-12 in conference, which is pretty much a guarantee to finish dead
last in the conference in the regular season.
The good news is
that the team did come up with a win over the Washington State Cougars this
past weekend, but we know that this is a totally different task on the road,
where ASU hasn't won a game in conference since knocking off the Oregon Ducks
back on January 1.
Now, to make
matters worse, the team's second and third leading scorers, Rihards Kuksiks and
Ty Abbott are both dealing with injuries. They both missed the win over Wazzu,
and both are listed as questionable for Thursday night's bout on the college
basketball lines. These two are combining for 22.6 PPG this year, leaving Trent
Lockett as the only healthy body averaging more than 7.2 PPG on the campaign.
Youthful Bruins Need to Bounce Back
Though UCLA had
been winning games prior to a 76-72 OT loss to the Cal Golden Bears over the
weekend, it just hasn't really felt like a tournament team. Wins against teams
like Stanford, USC, Oregon State, and Oregon just haven't done it for us, and
the only win in this stretch really of any great note was the victory against
the St. John's Red Storm in Steve Lavin's return to Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins know
that this is their last breather game, as they are likely to be short favorites
or dogs in each of their last three games of the year. This is one that just
cannot be lost.
The big five
scorers for UCLA just have to keep doing their thing. Malcolm Lee (13.6 PPG),
Reeves Nelson (13.6 PPG), Tyler Honeycutt (12.7 PPG), Joshua Smith (10.5 PPG),
and Lazeric Jones (10.2 PPG) are all capable of having huge games, and it will
probably only take one or two to really step up to be able to knock off a team
like this one, the worst in the conference.
Stacking Up the NCAA Basketball Odds
Arizona State has
played at least somewhat better ball of late, but these injuries are why it is
getting 11 1/2 points on the college basketball odds. It just isn't enough
This isn't going
to be another situation like we had in the desert in which the Bruins had to
just barely survive in OT with a 73-72 escape. They have to be tired of playing
all of these close games in this series when they win and getting blown out
when they lose. ASU is 4-1 ATS and 3-2 SU over the course of the last five in
this series, but that all comes to an end on Thursday night.
My Pick: Run with the
Bruins at your sportsbook tonight, and watch them take one step closer towards the dance on Thursday.