Three contests out west have piqued my interest on Thursday's college basketball betting card, and each involves a ranked team. Let's get right to them.
Bruins Visit Boulder To Battle Buffaloes
Only one of Thursday's tilts pits ranked teams against each other, and it should give us something of a sneak peak into the Pac-12 Tournament in a couple of months as the No. 21/22 Colorado Buffaloes host the No. 25 UCLA Bruins. The contest is available via the Pac-12 Network with the tip set for a little past 8 PM (ET).
Opening college basketball odds made UCLA 2 point chalk, but that soon moved to -1 before settling at -1.5 at most offshore betting outlets. A total has yet to be released on this game or the other two, so keep your eyes on SBRforum.com to catch the scoreboard hurdles.
Both teams have one conference loss already, and a second this early will not only knock the loser out of the top 25 rankings, but also likely relegate them to a middle-of-the-pack seeding for the conference tourney. The Bruins won and covered both of last season's matchups, taking a tough 78-75 win in Boulder as 2.5 point favorites. Both contests went past the total.
UCLA (13-3 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) is hitting the road for the first time on the Pac-12 schedule following an 87-72 win over Arizona State this past Sunday. It's all about offense for Steve Alford's bunch from Westwood, with the Bruins seventh in the country averaging 86.3 PPG and third nationally converting 51.4% from the field. Jordan Adams tops the Bruins with 18.1 PPG, but it's 6-9 swingman Kyle Anderson really stuffing the boxscores with 15.3 PPG plus a team-leading 9.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists.
Colorado (14-3 SU, 9-7 ATS) is coming off its lone Pac-12 loss, a 71-54 setback at Washington last Sunday that saw leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie's season come to an end with a knee injury. The Buffs were leading when Dinwiddie suffered the ACL tear to his left knee, and it seemed to take the wind right out of Colorado's sails when he was helped to the locker room.
College Basketball Pick: UCLA -1.5
'Cats Put No. 1 Ranking On Line Vs. Rivals
Arizona returns home from a 2-0game swing through Los Angeles last weekend, and the top-ranked Wildcats will be looking to move to 18-0 against their rivals from Arizona State. Tip-off from the McKale Center in Tucson is 9 PM (ET) with Fox Sports 1 providing the pictures.
Sean Miller's Wildcats went out as 11.5 to 12 point favorites, and why not? Arizona (17-0 SU, 12-4 ATS) retained the No. 1 ranking in both polls for a sixth straight week following road wins over the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans. The Wildcats took a tough-fought 79-75 battle vs. the Bruins as 1.5 point favorites before blowing out the Trojans as 14 point chalk, 73-53.
Arizona State (13-4 SU, 9-6 ATS) was also in LA and playing the same teams in reverse order. The Sun Devils easily handled the Trojans, 79-60, as 3.5 point favorites before bowing to the Bruins as 6 point 'dogs, 87-72.
The Wildcats won and covered by meetings last season, with each contest failing to reach the total, and have won five of the last six to take a 144-80 all-time lead in the series.
College Basketball Pick: Arizona -12
Zags Remain On Road With Trip To Pepperdine
Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs look to quickly move back into the win column following their first conference loss as they continue a 3-game road trip at the Pepperdine Waves. ROOT Sports will televise the West Coast clash starting at 10 PM (ET), and Gonzaga started off as 8.5 point chalk before seeing the spread quickly increase to 9.
Gonzaga (14-3 SU, 7-8 ATS) is coming off its first WCC defeat with an 82-73 loss at Portland where the Bulldogs were favored by 9, and it was their first conference loss in 22 games. That was their fourth straight game without junior guard Gary Bell, Jr. who is expected to miss another month with a hand injury. Gonzaga may have to go without big center Przemek Karnowski who is questionable with the flu.
Pepperdine (11-7 SU, 11-4 ATS) is just a half-game behind Gonzaga in the league standings after finishing a 4-game roadie with a 69-65 victory at San Diego last Saturday. The Waves were getting 6 points in that contest coming off consecutive losses at San Francisco and BYU, and the cover marked their fifth winning ticket in the last six contests.
The Bulldogs have won the last 24 in their series for a 44-31 all-time mark vs. Pepperdine. Each of the matchups last season went 'over' the total. Take Pepperdine +9 for your free college basketball pick.
College Basketball Pick: Pepperdine +9
Season: 18-9 (+8.1)