Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. UCLA Bruins Preview and Pick

Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 10, 149.5 O/U (12-9) 5-4 ATS, 8-7 O/U at No. 15 UCLA Bruins -10, 149.5 O/U (18-4) 11-10 ATS, 12-9 O/U Saturday, February 7, 2009 Pauley Pavilion (12,819) Westwood, California TV: CBS 1:00 EST (10:00 a.m. Pacific) Local Radio: AM 570, Satellite Radio: Sirius: Channel 123, XM: Channel 144

by Wilson of

UCLA will host Notre Dame today in another showdown at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins dismantled the USC Trojans 76-60 just a couple of days earlier on the same floor and look to repeat that effort against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame traveled to the Los Angeles area earlier this season as they got a win at Loyola Marymount 65-54. The Bruins are hoping to maintain their recent home stand by covering the ten point spread and then some! UCLA is on a 3-game win streak at home and are 12-1 at Pauley this season.

Notre Dame welcomes the renewing of the historic rivalry between these two programs. However, the Bruins lead the series with the Fighting Irish 27-19, and the last time the two met was in 2005 in South Bend when the Bruins earned the win 75-65. Todays game marks the 47th meeting between the two rivals. Notre Dame has only won 6 times at Pauley Pavilion with the latest victory coming at Pauley in 2004 when the Irish walked away with a 75-60 win.

The Fighting Irish are averaging 79.4 points per game but have reached 80 in all but nine contests while hitting the 90s in four games. So, you could say that they know how to fill it up, but their defense gives up nearly 73 ppg which may be cause for concern especially against the Bruins.

Notre Dame is unranked for the first time all season. They started off the season ranked 9th and moved up two spots to No.7 before tumbling down as of late. The Irish earned their ranking by playing well in the preseason Maui Classic as they knocked off Indiana (88-50) and Texas (81-80) to play North Carolina in the final game but then lost to the Tar Heels 102-87. In any event, this game will be a great midseason gut check for the Irish as they have recently played a tough schedule that has included five top ten teams and they have lost six consecutive games, all in the Big East, so maybe a change of scenery will do them some good!

Meanwhile, the UCLA Bruins are playing traditional Bruin basketballthey are winning a lot! I really thought USC would give them a decent run on Wednesday night but it was the Bruins who clamped it down on defense and were rewarded with easy transition baskets on the other end. UCLAs Josh Shipp went off for a game high 19 against the Trojans as they pounded USC 76-60 at Pauley. The Bruins put together a 24-7 run in the middle of the first half and led at the break 44-21. Too big of a whole for USC to fill and cover!

UCLA is an impressive 607-90 at Pauley Pavilion which I refer to as the Yankee Stadium of college hoops because of its magical feel and historical background of incredible players and games.

Does Notre Dame have a chance today? Sure, thats why they play the games! But the way UCLA has played lately, the ND staff may want to think about lining up some tickets to Universal Studios or Disneyland as a post game band aid/picker upper! The Bruins are blowing teams away right now and this game may be another big show for the Bruins to star in. The O/U is at 149.5 and the spread is -10 in favor of UCLA. The Bruins should cover the 10 points easily. Notre Dames defense will not slow down Shipp, Collison, Holiday, or Aboya.

Wilsons Pick: UCLA -10! Its prime time for the Bruins and CBS Saturday College Basketball baby! Luck to ya.