NCAA Basketball Picks: UCLA vs. California

Jeff Grant

Thursday, February 14, 2013 2:56 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 2:56 PM GMT

The UCLA Bruins have been tremendous against the spread as smallish road underdogs under Ben Howland, as they try to sweep the season series with the California Golden Bears Thursday night.


Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds for this Pac-12 Conference matchup at Haas Pavilion, with the opening tip scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Back on track

UCLA hits the road after winning two of three in its most recent homestand, including back-to-back victories over Washington State and Washington to close things out at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins have compiled a solid 13-5 record in February the last two-plus seasons—resulting in a 11-7 against-the-spread (ATS) mark in that span.

Biggest win of the year

California is coming off a 77-69 victory over the Arizona Wildcats as 13-point road underdogs Sunday, while going OVER the total for the first time in four contests.  The Golden Bears will now play five of their final seven conference games in front of their home fans.

It’s important to note that the program is 0-3 ATS off a road win this year, with the UNDER going 2-1 in that situation.

First meeting

I was a bit surprised to find the Bruins as a three-point road underdog when looking over the NCAA basketball odds page, considering they earned a convincing 79-65 victory as seven-point home favorites in the first meeting on Jan. 3.  UCLA is 17-9 when matching up with California during the Ben Howland era, including a 6-3 mark when traveling north. 

College basketball oddsmakers may be setting a trap in this affair, considering the Bruins have failed to cover the number in six of the last seven meetings in this series. 

All about the C’s

Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe have combined to score 790 of California’s 1,569 points through 23 games, which includes 33 versus UCLA a month ago at Pauley Pavilion.  The pair enter this affair as the conference’s highest scoring duo, combining for 34.4 points per game.

Getting the cash 

Thursday night’s visitor is one of the better teams nationally in covering the spread when given three points or less in the market, as UCLA is 20-8 ATS in that situation over the last 15 seasons.  The Bruins have also gotten the cash in their two opportunities as road underdogs in conference play during the 2012-13 campaign.

[gameodds]14/220690/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bruins as one of their sports picks Thursday night, as they should start playing their best basketball of the season heading into the final couple weeks of the regular season.  

The freshman trio of Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson account for 52.9 percent of the team’s scoring and should be primed for a major performance in this spot.

College Basketball Pick: Take the UCLA Bruins +3 at 5Dimes for your college basketball picks.

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