Washington Huskies vs. UCLA Bruins Preview and Pick

No. 22 Washington Huskies +8, 151 O/U (19-6) 15-8 ATS, 14-9 O/U at No. 20 UCLA Bruins -8, 151 O/U, (19-6) 12-12 ATS, 15-9 O/U Thursday, February 19, 2009 Pauley Pavilion (12,819) 11:07 p.m. EST, Los Angeles, California TV: FSN and FSN West, Radio: AM 570 Local, Sirius Satellite: Channel 122

By Wilson of Predictem.com

The UCLA Bruins lookto stay in the heart of the Pac-10 race when they host the Huskies of Washington this weekend. With both teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/Coaches Poll this should prove to be worth the price of admission. The Pac-10 title is up for grabs as the Huskies are currently in first place with Arizona State, UCLA, and California all within closing distance. Arizona State is one game away while the other schools are a couple behind, but that can all change after tonights game if UCLA gets the job done in LA.

The Bruins lead the series against Washington 89-36. This is the 126th meeting between the two schools. UCLA is 57-6 (.905) versus the Dawgs in LA, and 42-3 in Pauley Pavilion. However, this game will be more intense as the Bruins will be seeking revenge from an earlier loss this season to the Huskies in Seattle 86-75 on January 24th. In the loss at UW, Bruin Josh Shipp had 25 points which included 6 of 9 from 3-point land, but he was countered by the Huskies Isaiah Thomas who put up 24 to lead five Huskies in double figures.

Huskies head coach, Lorenzo Romar knows what his team is in for when they take the floor tonight. They are going to be like a bunch of angry hornets Romar said in an interview on Fox Sports Northwest referring to the Bruins mindset after their recent losses heading into this game. Certainly the Huskies will have their hands full but they will be ready go as Romar tends to get his guys up for these big games, probably by doing what most great coaches do- business as usualplay your game, type of approach.

The Huskies are led by freshman sensation Isaiah Thomas who averages 16.5 points per game. Thomas is the Pac-10s leading freshman scorer. Senior John Brockman is the big bruiser down low for the Huskies as he pulls down 11 boards per outing which is good for 2nd best in the conference.

UCLA has rallied of chunks of wins as they recently ran off ten in a row before last weekends fall in the desert to Arizona State and Arizona. The Bruins look to get back in the mix tonight behind the leadership of Darren Collison who leads the team in scoring at 14.8 ppg. Senior Alfred Aboya holds anchor for the Bruins underneath the rim as he grabs 5.6 rebounds per game. UCLA can fill it up, the Bruins are shooting a Pac-10 best .503 from the field.

The Bruins are favored by eight points but the game should be closer than expected from the sportsbooks. The bookies know it will likely be a last second shot that decides this matchup but they have to make it interesting.

Defense will again be a major factor as the Huskies gave up 25 to Shipp in the last outing but they also held him scoreless for more than nine minutes in the second half of that game. Both teams have speed and can move the ball well inside and out, so it will be the usual suspects that cause a losslack of defensive help, rebounding, and of course,the almighty turnovers.

Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar is no stranger to LA as he is a native of Compton, California and a former UCLA assistant. Romar is 7-7 against UCLA and he will try to go above .500 tonight. Also, it will be a family affair as Bruin Jrue Holiday will try to even the series this season against his older brother Justin Holiday who is sophomore forward on the Huskies roster.

Wilsons Pick: Huskies cover the +8. Luck to ya.