Thursday, 11 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
Free NCAAB Pick: Bruins ATS
Best Line Offered: SportsBetting
Pretty solid slate of NCAA basketball action on Thursday. My cohort Willie will preview Michigan State-Iowa, and Shawn will take care of NC State-Louisville. We’re here for the latest-starting Power 5 game of the night as Arizona State visits UCLA in Pac-12 action.
It starts the Los Angeles Swing for the Sun Devils, who are third in the conference at 4-2 and probably a fringe NCAA Tournament team right now. They visit USC on Sunday. UCLA plays at home for the first time since Jan. 5.
Last year, these schools played just once and Arizona State was an 88-79 winner in Tempe. Shannon Evans II led the Sun Devils with 23 points. Down 22-20, ASU’s Evans and Tra Holder hit back-to-back three-pointers and ASU never trailed again. The Devils had just seven turnovers. This is the only scheduled meeting this season. UCLA leads the all-time series 68-20 and has taken seven of the past nine.
Home/Road Splits Favor UCLA Bet
Arizona State enters having won two straight and four of five. It beat visiting Oregon on Saturday, 78-64, by outscoring the Ducks 39-24 after intermission. A 19-0 run changed the game. Five Arizona State players scored in double figures, led by 17 from Zylan Cheatham. He’s having a fine season, averaging 12.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Oregon shot just 33.3 percent overall, the ninth opponent Arizona State has held under 40. The Sun Devils were outrebounded for only the third time this season. ASU is averaging 79.1 points, best in the Pac-12.
UCLA (3-2 in conference) fired coach Steve Alford a few weeks ago and things have been a bit better under interim coach Murry Bartow. The Bruins enter off back-to-back road losses, though, at Oregon State and USC, each by 13 points after opening Pac-12 play with a 3-0 start for the first time since 2012-13.
Murry blamed a lack of pressure defense – and not enough forced turnovers — in the past two losses and said that will increase Thursday. Then again, UCLA probably won’t win many close games if it doesn’t improve at the charity stripe as the Bruins are making just 61.1 percent, worst in the Pac-12 among the worst nationally.
Freshman center Moses Brown is hitting a laughable 33.3 percent from the line and is 7-for-27 over the past six games. He is among the conference’s best rebounders at 8.9 per game. Kris Wilkes ranks fourth in the conference in scoring at 17.1 ppg and has reached double figures in all 18 games. Jaylen Hands leads the Pac-12 in assists per game (6.4).
- Sun Devils are 3-10-2 ATS in their last 15 road games.
- Sun Devils are 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings in UCLA.
- Bruins are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games following three or more consecutive road games.
ASU has the better roster but is just 1-3 ATS in true road games this year. UCLA is 6-5 ATS at home and won its past two there easily against Stanford and Cal. Take the Bruins against the spread Thursday.