UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon State Beavers Preview and Pick

No. 12 UCLA Bruins -14 (10-2) 5-6 ATS, 5-6 O/U at Oregon State Beavers +14 (5-5) 3-3 ATS, 3-3 O/U Thursday, January 2, 2009 Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Oregon 10:30 p.m. EST
by Wilson of Predictem.com

Corvallis, Oregon- The head coach of the Oregon State Beaver’s Men’s basketball team, Craig Robinson, is no stranger to the spotlight. Robinson was recently featured on NBC’s, The Today Show, because of his connection to President-Elect Barrack Obama. Obama is Robinson’s brother-in-law, and they both have a love for basketball. But is that love for the game going to be enough for the Beavers to knock off No. 12 UCLA in tonight’s matchup in the Pac-10 conference opener for both squads? Hey, Barrack Obama showed the world that anything can be achieved; can Robinson sell that same message to his players? Only time will tell.

The Oregon State Men’s basketball program has been considered the weakest link of all the programs at OSU during the last ten years. In fact, the Beavers have only had one winning season during the past ten year stretch. Last season the Beavers did not win a single conference game. Maybe it’s about time the hoop’s Gods tossed a little love down on the Beavers!

OSU got off to a bad start with losses to Montana State, Yale, and Howard (who is Howard?) but they have recently turned things around by winning four in a row. The wins over Fresno State, Nebraska, Seattle Pacific, and new-comer to Division 1, Seattle University, have definitely built some confidence. However none of those teams can even begin to compare with the talent level of a UCLA Bruin squad that is surprisingly solid after losing some bigtime players from last year’s team.

Oregon State’s guard, Calvin Hayne, leads the Beaver’s scoring with 18.8 points per game. Haynes had some early season academic issues, but now appears to be on track in the classroom.

UCLA has just two losses, the first, and a surprise defeat, to unranked Michigan albeit by a few points and the second loss to then No. 8 Texas also by a few points. The Bruins have been on a 6-game winning streak with no games closer than a 17 point margin.

The Bruins lead the Pac-10 in scoring margin, beating their opponents by an average of 19.3 points per game. The spark plug for this team is once again guard, Darren Collison who averages 14.3 points per game. Collison is a prime-time player who seems to step it up when needed and he can hit the last second shot or attract enough attention to kick it out, or slip a dime to a cutter.

Tonight’s game should be a laugher for the Bruins as they are favored by 14 at most sports gambling websites. It would be a early season statement if the Beavers can find a way to upset the mighty, legendary Bruins on their home court, but I have to admit, the chances are slim.

UCLA knows how important it is to crush every team they play, especially a team that went 0-18 in conference just a year ago. Maybe Beaver’s head coach Robinson put down beating UCLA as a New Year’s resolution- wouldn’t that be something? Good luck coach, now that the world knows you have connections maybe the Beavers magically turn things around- hey, it’s who you know- isn’t it?

UCLA looks like they can play with anyone, and they also have a great chance to win the Pac-10 title again. I don’t know if they have enough mustard to crack the final four, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time.

Wilson’s Pick: OSU comes out on fire early, and UCLA struggles to find a rhythm. Call me crazy, but I like the Beavers to upset and win on a last possession backdoor cut just as the buzzer goes off! Either way, the Beavers cover the spread. Luck to ya.