NCAAB Odds: Kentucky To Cover Blue-Blood Battle Vs. UCLA

malik monk kentucky

Friday, December 2, 2016 7:48 PM GMT

It might be championship weekend in college football, but there's a tremendous NCAA basketball game Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET) as No. 11 UCLA visits No. 1 Kentucky in a matchup of schools with the two most national titles ever. The Cats are -9 on NCAAB odds.

Bruins Finally Leaving L.A. Area

No. 11 UCLA (8-0) has won a record 11 basketball national championships, but those are basically all due to John Wooden. The school's last title was in 1995 under Steve Lavin. The Bruins were one of the nation's biggest disappointments last year in finishing 15-17, which put Coach Steve Alford squarely on the hot seat. In credit to Alford following last season, he apologized to UCLA fans and returned a contract extension he signed after the 2013-14 season. The extension was for the 2020-21 campaign.

Despite his tenuous job status, Alford brought in a terrific recruiting class led by point Lonzo Ball, who could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He has been about as good as advertised, averaging 14.6 points, a team-leading 9.6 assists (best in nation) and 4.9 rebounds in 33.9  minutes per night. Another touted freshman and likely 2017 first-round pick, T.J. Leaf, is averaging 17.3 points and 9.0 rebounds.

The Bruins have been a fantastic offensive team thus far, averaging 97.0 points per game (third in nation) and shooting a collective 55.3 percent from the field (first nationally) and 45.6 percent from long range (second). That said, UCLA hasn't played anyone of note. Its closest game was a 74-67 victory against Texas A&M last Sunday in the Wooden Classic holiday tournament in Anaheim. Ball was named the tournament MVP.

This will be UCLA's first true road game of the season and its only scheduled one in non-conference action. The Bruins are 6-2 ATS on NCAA basketball odds.

 

Wildcats Crushing Their Foes

Top-ranked Kentucky is second all-time in basketball national championships with eight, last in 2012. As usual, the Wildcats (7-0) are led by a stellar class of freshmen -- this year's group was ranked No. 2 in the country behind Duke's. Looking at UK's schedule the rest of the way, it might not be an underdog all regular season. It does have a tough game vs. No. 3 North Carolina on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas, but the Cats should be favored there as well as at No. 14 Louisville on Dec. 21 and at home vs. No. 4 Kansas on Jan. 28. The SEC is really weak again so Kentucky should roll through the conference.

UK also has played a weak non-conference schedule thus far except for a 69-48 blowout of then-No. 13 Michigan State on Nov. 15 at the Champions Classic in New York City. The Wildcats come off a 115-69 destruction of Arizona State, another Pac-12 team, on Monday in the Bahamas. Freshman De'Aaron Fox posted the second triple-double in school history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. And fellow freshman guard Malik Monk had 23 points, four assists and three rebounds. There are going to be several future NBA players on the court Saturday. Fox and Monk are both likely 2017 lottery picks.

Kentucky is the only team in the country ranked in the Top 5 in adjusted offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) and adjusted defensive efficiency. UK has won all seven games by at least 21 points, the first time that has happened to start a season since 1947-48.   

The Cats are 6-1 ATS on NCAA basketball picks. UK was No. 1 last year when it visited UCLA in early December and lost 87-77.

NCAAB Free Pick: Kentucky -9

Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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