NCAA Basketball Picks: Duke vs. UCLA

Jeff Grant

Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:56 PM GMT

The Duke Blue Devils have enjoyed great success at Madison Square Garden in recent years, but they’ll be tested against the UCLA Bruins Thursday night.

Let’s take a closer look at the college basketball odds for this non-conference matchup in New York City, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Feasting during the holidays

Duke has won 22 consecutive games in the month of December, including victories over the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs and Michigan Wolverines during the 2013-14 campaign.

The Blue Devils have compiled a 28-16 SU all-time record at this venue, including a 23-8 mark under the direction of Coach K.

A major test

UCLA is off to a solid 9-1 start this season, but it has dropped nine of 15 all-time meetings in this series, including seven of eight since Coach K took over at Duke.

The Bruins have dropped four of their last six regular-season games against top 10 teams on a neutral floor, but they’ve put together a 14-11 record in this building.

Parker

Blue Devils freshman forward Jabari Parker is averaging 22.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game—registering an ACC-high eight 20-point scoring performances.

Duke has had a 20-point scorer in all 10 games this season, while the team ranks seventh and 14th nationally in shooting percentage and scoring offense respectively.

Offensive firepower

College basketball handicappers need to realize that the Bruins have the offensive firepower to match the Blue Devils, with sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson leading the charge—combining to score 35.4 points per game.

UCLA is second in the Pac-12 Conference in averaging 89.1 points and shooting 54.3 percent from the floor.

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bruins for their college basketball picks, as I believe their inside scoring and ability to get to the free throw line will be the difference against the betting odds.

College Basketball Pick: UCLA Bruins +4