NCAA Basketball Pick on California as Home Dog vs. UCLA

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, February 7, 2015 3:19 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 3:19 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Saturday.


There could be good underdog value Saturday night inside the Pac-12 when the UCLA Bruins (14-9, 2-5 away), fresh off of a road upset of Stanford, pay a visit to those California Golden Bears (14-9, 9-6 home) at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, CA at 8:00 ET in a game available on Pac-12 Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has California as a home underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -120.

Both Teams on Three-Game Winning Streaks
Not only do these teams have identical 14-9 records but both also enter this contest riding three-game winning streaks. The streak for UCLA began with a nice 69-59 upset of Utah back home in Pauley Pavilion on January 29th, and the Bruins followed that up with another home win over Colorado and then the road upset of Stanford as 6½-point underdogs on Thursday. UCLA is in a four-way tie for third in the Pac-12 at 6-4 with Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State.

California is only 4-6 in the conference but it is trending in the right direction since a 1-6 conference start in its first season under former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, as the Golden Bears have been the winning NCAA Basketball picks the last three games, a streak that started with a sweep of two road games in the state of Washington over the Huskies and the Washington State Cougars before a win here at home over USC Thursday.

Bruins Don’t Shoot Well Enough to be Road Chalk?
Despite the identical overall records and current winning streaks, UCLA is still ranked significantly ahead of the Golden Bears on the Pomeroy Ratings at 50th overall compared to 147th for Cal, but our concern is that the Bruins may not shoot well enough to be road favorites. The Bruins are a scary 254th in the country in field goal percentage at 42.1 percent, a shooting percentage that drops to a ridiculously bad 36.9 percent on the road!

Poor shooting almost proved costly at Stanford Thursday as the Bruins were held scoreless for the last five minutes to finish at 37.5 percent for the game and nearly squandered a 22-point lead in the process as they withstood a missed three-point shot at the buzzer by the Cardinal to barely hold on for the 69-67 win.

So how does UCLA average 71.5 points per game and rank a good 59th in the country in offensive efficiency with such poor shooting? Well, two areas where the Bruins are strong are in not turning the ball over and in offensive rebounding.

UCLA is 48th in the country on offensive turnover percentage at 17.2 percent vs. a national average of 19.5 percent and 57th on offensive rebounding percentage at 35.1 percent vs. a national rate of 31.2 percent. The problem for this contest though is that we see both of those strengths being neutralized.

California Great on Defensive Glass
California has gotten better as the season has gone on in its first year under Martin and the Golden Bears are looking to avenge a 19-point 73-54 loss to UCLA at Pauley back on January 11th. And considering the Bears’ improved play as of late and the way they match up to the Bruins’ strengths, they just might get that revenge here or at the very least take this game down to the final buzzer.

For starters California is in a virtual tie with UCLA in offensive turnover percentage at 17.2 percent so the Bruins do not figure to have a turnover edge here as they oftentimes do. But most importantly the Golden Bears are ranked third in the entire country in defensive rebounding percentage, allowing opponents to gather in their own missed shots just 24.0 percent of the time, so UCLA does not figure to get as many second chances as usual either.

Can UCLA Win on Road Again?
Finally, UCLA has not been a very good road team going 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games away from Los Angeles with the second of those covers coming in Palo Alto on Thursday. So after going 1-8 ATS in their previous nine road games, can UCLA now suddenly be expected to cover away from home twice in a row, and this time as a road favorite no less?

While we respect the overall Pomeroy Ratings, we feel that home standing California actually matches up well with UCLA here despite the rating disparity, so the Golden Bears get our call as home underdogs on Saturday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: California +4 (-120)

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