Potential Sluggish Start for Arizona Makes UCLA Solid First-Half Pick

Rainman M.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 3:22 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 3:22 PM UTC

No. 13 Arizona (19-5) hosts UCLA (16-7) tonight at 10 ET on ESPN. Arizona is favored by 9, but can bettors expect a strong performance from the Wildcats at home after losing at Washington?

Thursday College Basketball: UCLA vs. ArizonaFree NCAAB Pick: UCLA +5 1HBest Line Offered: Heritage

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3336863, "sportsbooksIds":[169,999996,1096,19,93], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":2}[/]

Arizona has been strong in conference play for its fans, mounting a 9-2 SU record, but not for its bettors. The Wildcats have been repeatedly overrated on the college basketball odds board, covering the spread in only three conference games thus far, all on the road.

Two Wildcats average 19 points per game, guard Allonzo Trier and center Deandre Ayton. Trier and Ayton excel around the rim. Both rank in the top 100 in two-point shooting percentage and in the top 200 in drawing fouls. Ayton is also a rebounding machine who ranks 139th in offensive rebounding percentage and 10th in defensive rebounding percentage. He leads Zona with 10.8 rebounds per game. Trier has significantly improved his three-point shooting, this year ranking 244th. He has attempted almost twice as many threes as any other Wildcat. In four of Arizona's five SU losses, Trier shot 25 percent or worse from three.

Power forward Dusan Ristic is fourth with 11.7 points per game and second with 6.9 rebounds per game. He ranks 253rd in two-point shooting percentage. Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is Arizona's most efficient three-point shooter, ranking 118th.

UCLA has already exceeded last season's loss total.

Point guard Aaron Holiday easily leads UCLA with 19 points per game. He is the team's go-to-guy who ranks 30th in percentage of team minutes played. He is especially dangerous from three, ranking 184th in three-point shooting percentage. But he is also effective around the rim, ranking in the top 250 in both percentage of fouls drawn and free-throw percentage. Holiday is also UCLA's top distributor, ranking 123rd in assist rate and leading the Bruins with 5.4 assists per game. But he needs to stop turning the ball over so often; he has 10 turnovers in UCLA's past two games.

Center Thomas Welsh is third on UCLA with 13 points per game and first with 10.3 rebounds per game. He's also finally allowed to attempt three-point shots this season and ranks 432nd in three-point shooting. Welsh, along with small forward Kris Wilkes, who averages 13.8 points per game, ranks in the top 150 in turnover rate.

The Verdict

With your NCAAB picks you instinctively might want to bet on the favored home team after a loss, but the numbers suggest differently. Arizona is consistently disappointing oddsmakers' expectations at home. The Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in the first half of home conference games. They are also consistently sluggish at home after losing, in the last three years going 0-6 ATS in the first half of conference games after losing to another conference opponent. Five of those ATS losses came at home.

So if bettors still want to play Arizona full game, they should wait until halftime to place their bet on Arizona 2H in order to get a better number. An Arizona team coached by Sean Miller has lost only one time SU at home after losing the previous game in the past five years. So Arizona should bounce back tonight, but the numbers suggest it will take them time to develop a rhythm.

Both coaches will be extra excited for this game because of the bad blood between them:

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZD7WrODpoJ4", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

The numbers suggest that UCLA sticks with Arizona for at least the first half in order to cover the spread. If bettors play only the first half of this game, they will also have to put up with the notoriously obnoxious Bill Walton's commentating for only that much time.

comment here