Back Road Favorite Utah -5.5 vs. UCLA for Your NCAA Basketball Picks

Jeff Grant

Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:41 PM GMT

Utah has dominated opponents when favored this season, which makes it a top college basketball pick against UCLA Thursday night.

Dominant Play
Utah is second in the nation to Notre Dame for most wins by 20 or more points this season, which is important to consider when looking over the NCAA basketball odds, as its average margin of victory in conference play is 23.5.

In their last game against the Bruins, the Utes set a program record for the largest win against a Pac-12 foe by earning a 71-39 victory as 11.5-point home favorites on Jan. 4. It’s important to point out that the team is one of just six in the country to have not allowed an opponent to score more than 72 points this year.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the Utes are 10-13 SU and 16-6-1 ATS in January.

 

Home Sweet Home
UCLA has played seven of its last nine games away from home, which can’t be ignored when making your college basketball picks, as it has put together a solid 9-1 SU record at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins have put together a 25-3 SU record at home in two seasons under head coach Steve Alford, while they’ve averaged 83.9 points per game in that situation in 2014-15.

Sophomore guard Bryce Alford is the main player to watch in this matchup, as he’s averaging a team-best 18.1 points in 10 games at this venue.

Sports bettors will find that the squad is 5-9 SU and 3-11 ATS versus teams with a winning record.

Check Out Our Top ATS Plays for Tonight

Getting Defensive
The Utes rank second among Pac-12 teams in defensive points per possession, which has been made possible by ranking among the top 15 nationally in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.

Utah has also been a special team on the glass—ranking second in the conference in total rebounding margin at +6.1—owning an advantage in 15 of 19 overall games.

 

Falling Short
The Bruins are 27-24 SU versus ranked opponents the last eight-plus seasons, but they’ve dropped their last four games in that situation by an average of 26.5 points.

UCLA will need a big performance out of Kevon Looney in hopes of pulling off an upset, as he’s the only freshman to be averaging a double-double on the season—averaging 13.0 points and 10.2 rebounds.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Utes as one of their NCAA Basketball picks, as the Bruins are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 contests, while the Utes are 13-0 SU and 10-3 ATS as favorites this season.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah Utes -5.5 at BetOnline