NCAA Basketball Picks: Shade Kentucky -5.5 vs. Weaker UCLA

David Lawrence

Thursday, December 3, 2015 12:04 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 12:04 PM GMT

The Kentucky Wildcats meet the UCLA Bruins in Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night. Last season, the two teams met in a neutral-site game, check our free NCAA basketball pick here.

Momentum
Kentucky defeated Illinois State at home on Monday, a few days after beating South Florida in the sunshine state. The Wildcats are not as good as they were last season. They don’t have as much depth. They do have size, but not to the extent that they did last season. Willie Cauley-Stein was a space-eating defender who could take on an assignment in the low post and on the perimeter. It didn’t matter – he could defend just about any player on the other team. Kentucky does not have that player this season. It’s going to be a little more difficult for this team to get good performances from some players when other players are struggling. Last season’s team had more options. The Wildcats are doing well enough right now, but it remains to be seen how well they will handle this environment. Kentucky is playing its first game in Pauley Pavilion, which is hard to believe, given the history of the two schools. If things don’t go well in the first half, can Kentucky reorganize in the second?

UCLA beat UNLV by two points at the Maui Invitational last week, but that was as good as it got for the Bruins in Hawaii. They then lost to Kansas and lost to Wake Forest in the consolation game before beating Cal State Northridge on Sunday at home. UCLA is having a very hard time defending the opposition. Some teams struggle early in the season on offense, and others struggle on defense. UCLA is clearly an example of a team that is struggling on defense. The Bruins are vulnerable to big runs and have not yet found a defensive stopper who can really anchor them when an opposing team gets a hot scorer going. The Bruins face a massive challenge in the form of Kentucky, even though it’s at home.

Must Read: NCAA Basketball Betting Strategies

Home-Away Trends
This is Kentucky’s second road game of the season. The Wildcats won their first road game last Friday at South Florida.

UCLA is 3-1 at home this season, but the Bruins were expected to win all four of their first home games. They were not expected to lose at home to Monmouth.

 

Injuries
Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis is questionable for this game with an elbow injury. Forward Isaac Humphries is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

UCLA forward Gyorgy Goloman is out indefinitely with a leg injury.

 

What’s The Pick?
The NCAA basketball odds began with Kentucky as a 5.5-point favorite and has stayed there. The betting public is concerned about the Ulis injury, which could really affect the Wildcats’ offense and their ability to avoid turnovers. UCLA, however, is a weak team, so the line has not moved in favor of the Bruins just yet. Kentucky probably has enough strength near the basket and enough overall skill to handle whatever UCLA can throw at the Wildcats, even if Ulis cannot play. Take Kentucky with your NCAA basketball picks.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky -5.5 at Pinnacle

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