Stanford Cardinal (26-6), +3.5, o/u 124.5 vs. UCLA Bruins (28-3), -3.5, o/u 124.5, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, 5 p.m. Eastern, Saturday
by Oracle at Predictem.com
The UCLA Bruins used the Stanford Cardinals as a stepping-stone the last time they met just over a week ago. On Saturday night at the Staples Center, they look to do the same.
With a 77-67 overtime win against Stanford, which was marked with a bunch of questionable calls, including one at the end of regulation, the Bruins clinched a regular season title with the win.
This time out, 2nd ranked UCLA looks to come out the Pac-10 Tournament champions for the second time in three years when they try to beat 11th ranked Stanford for the third time this season.
It’s a pretty lofty goal considering Stanford has lost just six total times this season, with two of those losses coming in overtime. The Bruins will more than likely be one man short, too, as junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be sidelined with an ankle injury he suffered in their 57-54 win against USC on Friday. Moute was out for two games earlier this season, as UCLA split those contests by winning and losing one.
The Cardinals beat Arizona and held off Washington State to get to the Pac-10 championship game, as they look to win the conference tournament for the first time since 2004.
The Bruins dominated California and squeaked by USC to get to the finals. The Bruins, although ranked 2nd in the nation, haven’t been playing their best basketball over the last two weeks. They’ve trailed in the second half four out of their last five games and have given up nearly 67 points per contest, well above their season average of 58.9, which is 10th in the country.
The Cardinals are led by the Lopez twins Brook and Robin. Brook, who scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Washington State on Friday, did his best to keep his team in the game late during the most recent meeting against the Bruins. Brook finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes of action. Twin brother Robin had a nice game, too, with 14 points.
However, the balanced play of UCLA, along with what seemed to be a gift call at the end of regulation, led the way. With UCLA down two, Darren Collison drove to the hoop, but Stanford was called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean block. Collison made both free throws in the final seconds of regulation and the rest was history.
Moute (10 points, 11 rebounds) and freshman phenom Kevin Love (17 and 10) both ended with double- doubles while guards Collison and Russell Westbrook led the team in scoring with 24 and 19, respectively.
The first meeting all the way back in January was pretty similar, with UCLA winning 76-67, this time in regulation. The biggest difference was Josh Shipp, who came off the bench to score 21 points, including five three-pointers.
The line for this contest is probably where many bettors figured it would be, as it opened up with UCLA the favorites -3.5. The over/under is set even lower than it was the first two games at 124.5.
Both teams have been perfect on neutral sites this year, including a 5-0 mark for UCLA.
UCLA has also dominated the spread for bettors this season with a 19-11-2 record, while Stanford is an even 16-16 ATS.
The Bruins covered lines of -8.5 and +1 in their first two meetings with Stanford this year. Also, the over/unders were set rather low (128.5 and 126) because of the two teams’ stellar defenses, but in both cases they went over way over, in fact.
There aren’t many trends these two teams have shown ATS as of late for bettors. The Cardinals have faired well during Saturday games lately by covering five of their last seven.
For UCLA, it hasn’t been too often where they haven’t covered back-to-back games. The Bruins are 22-8 in their last 30 games after failing to cover the spread the game before.
The favorite is also 8-3 against the spread in the last 11 head-to-head meetings, while Stanford is just 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the Bruins.
The lines are usually set low when these two defensive mammoths collide in Pac-10 action, as is the case this time. Lately, though, it hasn’t mattered. The over is 5-0 in the last five head-to-head clashes. The over is also 4-0 in the Cardinals last four neutral site games and 5-0 in their last five contests against teams with a winning record.
It’s difficult for any team to beat their opponent three times in one season. If bettors don’t’ like the line in this game, the over can be a trendy pick.
Oracle’s Pick: Take Stanford at +3.5!