College Basketball Top 25 Saturday, March 4

by Cameron Dorrett
on March 4, 2017

It’s the final Saturday of the regular season! While it’s a little bit upsetting that the college basketball season is drawing to a close it’s also unbelievably exciting that the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner.

There’s still some seeding left to be determined and teams desperately trying to make it into the tournament with some last minute wins and as always we’re here to break down all the Saturday action for you. Pull up a chair and get ready for the final hurrah before tournament season. Let’s get to it!

#2 Villanova Wildcats at Georgetown Hoyas

Spread

  • Villanova (-7.5) at Georgetown (+7.5)

The two rivals meet in an awesome final game of the regular season with each Big Conference teams having at least one final four appearance in the last ten years. With the rivalry aside there’s still some interesting implications for each time. The regular season finale is also the final game for senior stars Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, who are Villanova’s own born and raised and will try to finish the year strong.

Hart has been one of the best players in the country and is from near by Silver Spring, a private school just a few miles from the Verizon Centre while his teammate Jenkins, who made the shot of his last season is from Upper Marlboro and averages 13.2 points a game while Hart leads the team with 18.6.

The Wildcats will be rested and ready to go after playing last Saturday in a big win over Creighton. Villanova is now 27-3 overall with a 14-3 mark in the Conference and have won four straight regular season titles.

Now they’ll welcome Georgetown into their building who are just 14-16 overall with a brutal 5-12 mark in the conference. They’ve lost four straight and now their coach John Thompson III is under pressure to leave the program. The Hoya seniors will get recognition at home on the last game of the season but pulling out a win may be tough.

Key Matchup

Josh Hart against Rodney Pryor

Both players average at least 18 points for their team but Hart has a much more complete game. While Hart may not go high in the draft because of his senior status, his game is NBA ready and he’ll be trying to prove it with another big game on the road.

Advice

Take the Wildcats to cover. Georgetown is getting a tough spread thanks to them playing at home on Senior Night in a rivalry but the Wildcats just have too much firepower for a 7.5 points spread to hold them down.

Pick

Villanova
78
Georgetown
69

#9 Kentucky Wildcats at Texas A&M Aggies

Spread

  • Kentucky (-7.5) at Texas (+7.5)

The Kentucky train just keeps rolling along. The Wildcats are destroying their opponents as the season winds down and have now won seven straight after losing a blowout to the Gators over a month ago. Now for their final act they travel to Texas for a date with the Aggies and their opponents better be prepared.

Kentucky is 25-5 overall this season and wrapped up a first place title in the SEC with a 15-2 record in the conference. They’ve held Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas at bay and are now prepared to finish the regular season with a bang on the road. They also have arguably the best player in college basketball in Malik Monk.

Monk is averaging 21.7 points a game with 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals. While his defense can still stand to improve his ability to control the game on offense is downright cold. It helps that he has the clutch gene as well. He’s scored 50 points on 18 of 19 shooting in the second half of Kentucky’s last two comeback wins against Florida and Vanderbilt and was simply built for the big moment.

That won’t deter the Aggies from trying to make a splash at home for their last game of the year. They’ve won two straight against Alabama and Missouri and are now 13-16 overall. They’re still in just 9th place in the SEC with a 8-9 record but know how big a win would be at home against the Wildcats for their final game of the year.

They’re led by Tyler Davis who averages 14.1 points a game while providing some good rim protection for the Aggies. He’ll be in tough against the length and athleticism of Kentucky but also has the capacity to fill up the stat sheet.

Key Matchup

Robert Williams against Edrice Adebayo

Both players lead their team in rebounds despite and while neither score a ton of points they’ll be asked to do a lot on Saturday when these two clubs collide under the rim. Expect Adebayo to have a little more breathing room with the shots the rest of his teammates take.

Advice

Another spread that we find too small. It’s great that it’s the last game of the year for the Aggies but the Wildcats are rolling, and whether or not all their stars play they still have enough firepower to grab the win. Take Kentucky on the spread.

Pick

Kentucky
75
Texas A&M
65

Pittsburgh Panthers at #23 Virginia Cavaliers

Spread

  • Pittsburgh (+11.5) at Virginia (-11.5)

The ACC is already decided, but only for first place. North Carolina locked up their 31st regular season title but there’s still a ton of seeding to be decided for the tournament and Virginia wants nothing more than to lock in a win. They’ve won their last two straight including a huge win over North Carolina and now have a giant opportunity to grab the double bye in the tournament with a win over Pitt.

The Panthers have struggled this year despite having two of the best scorers in the conference and now find themselves playing on day one of the ACC no matter what. Despite all their woes this year they still grabbed a huge win over this same Virginia team when they beat them by 12 in overtime.

Pittsburgh’s season is over as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned and are playing for nothing but pride at this point, but as well all know pride can be a dangerous thing and the Cavaliers need to bring their A game when the Panthers step onto the floor. Virginia will need to make sure their defense is ready to go and it seems like they’re in a good spot after limiting the Tar Heels to their lowest point total in the last 38 years.

Pittsburgh has two prolific scorers in Michael Young who averages 20.1 points a game and Jamel Artis who drops 18.9 of his own and they can light up any defense in the league if they get hot. It’s up to the Cavaliers to lock in as a team if they have any hope of stopping both players.

Key Matchup

Michael Young against London Perrantes

Neither will likely guard each other but both are the most impactful players on their team. Perrantes dictates the offense and averages 0.7 steals a game and will need to help out on double teams when Young gets the ball.

Advice

The Panthers are only playing for pride, and to spoil some seeding, and sometimes that’s all it takes. With Virginia still needing to win this game for a better tournament seed we expect them to handle business but we think Pittsburgh makes it close. Take the Panthers on the spread.

Pick

Virginia
78
Pittsburgh
70

#19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #8 Louisville Cardinals

Spread

  • Notre Dame (+8) at Louisville (-8)

After a rock stretch of games the Irish are back to their winning ways and turning into a real powerhouse down the stretch of the regular season. They’ve won six straight games including wins over Florida State and Wake Forest and will now try and prove just how good they’ve been with a win over the Cardinals.

Notre Dame is 23-7 overall and in second place in the ACC. They’re just one game back of North Carolina and while they can’t win the title they could technically earn a share of the league if the Tar Heels somehow lose. They’ll be gunning for that victory when they hit the road in Louisville but it won’t be easy against the Cardinals.

Louisville have lost two of their last three but both those games were on the road with one at North Carolina and one at Wake Forest. They took care of a visiting Syracuse team and are now 23-7 overall and third in the ACC. They have no chance of grabbing the number one seed in the conference, but a loss could send them flying down the standings. They’re in a three way tie with Duke and Florida State and will need to take care of the Fighting Irish at home if they want to enter the ACC tournament as a higher seed.

The Cardinals are led by Donovan Mitchell and his excellent season just keeps on keeping on. He’s up to 15.8 points a game with 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and an excellent 2.1 steals. His offensive production is strong but his ability to play on both sides of the ball is what makes him such an attractive option to NBA teams in the upcoming draft.

Key Matchup

Bonzie Colson against Mangok Mathiang

Mathiang only plays 20 minutes a game for the Cardinals but will likely be leaned on a little more in this game with Bonzie Colson on the opposite end. The best player on the Irish is averaging 16.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.7 assist, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks. He literally does it all for the Irish and loves to bang under the basket.

Advice

With Louisville still needing to win this game to improve their seeding we like taking the Cardinals at home on the spread. As strong as Notre Dame has looked recently they may not have what it takes to close the gap on the road against Louisville.

Pick

Louisville
82
Notre Dame
72

#12 Florida Gators at Vanderbilt Commodores

Spread

  • Florida(-4) at Vanderbilt (+4)

We told you there’d still be lot to play for on the final Saturday of the season and the Commodores and Gators are a great example. Florida is 24-6 overall and 13-3 in the SEC and while they can’t outright win the conference they can help themselves a great deal with a win over Vanderbilt. If Kentucky loses and Florida wins they would grab a share of the conference lead.

Vanderbilt meanwhile is still alive for a chance to enter the NCAA Tournament. At 16-14 overall with a 9-8 record in the conference they still have a chance to enter the big dance and already have a huge upset over Florida this season and remain the only team to beat the Gators at home this season. Since then, the Commodores have beaten Arkansas, Iowa State and South Carolina and while a tournament bid has never been given to a team with more than 14 losses a win over the Gators again would certainly cause some strong consideration.

If the Commodores are going to win it’s going to need to happen in the paint. Luke Kornet has been a beast for Vanderbilt all season long and dropped 21 points against Kentucky on Tuesday. He’s been excellent since getting over his knee injury and now ranks in the top ten a shocking seven different statistical categories within the conference. They lost that Kentucky game by just six points and know how much is on the line if they can somehow slip by the Gators.

It may just work if the offence goes through Kornet with out thin Florida is inside. The Gators no longer have John Egbunu who suffered a knee injury that is causing him to miss the rest of the season. They’ve tried to replace him with bench players but nothing is seeming to get the job done and they’ll be in trouble trying to stop Vandy’s big front court.

Key Matchup

Jeff Roberson against Devin Robinson

Two similar last names and two similar roles in this game. Both players lead their teams in rebounding and will need to try to win the battle inside but with Kornet also lurking in the paint for Vanderbilt the Commodores have a strong advantage inside.

Advice

Call us crazy but we love the Commodores chances at home. Even if they don’t win they’re getting four points at home and have a serious mismatch inside against the Gators. Take Vanderbilt at home and hope their big front court eats up Florida on the spread.

Pick

Vanderbilt
76
Florida
73

#6 Oregon Ducks at Oregon State Beavers

Spread

  • Oregon (-18) at Oregon State (+18)

Well, not every game can be exciting. Our biggest mismatch of the night comes when the worst team in the conference takes on the best as the Civil War wages on in Oregon. The Ducks come in ranked number 6th on the year with a 26-4 record overall and currently enjoying a five game win streak. They head into enemy territory trying to grab a share of the lead for the Pac-12 championship and want nothing more than to end the regular season with a bang. The Ducks and Wildcats are tied for top spot in the conference with both expected to win their games.

The Ducks are coming off a big win at Cal after coming from behind and narrowly edging Stanford the game before. The Beavers aren’t as good as either of those teams but they’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder when their fellow state rivals come to town.

Still, the Beavers are brutal this season with a 1-16 mark in the conference and trying to avoid becoming just the eight school ever to win less than two conference games. They lost by 42 points in their first game against Oregon this season and the Ducks led that game 21-0 to start.

Key Matchup

Dillon Brooks against Stephen Thompson Jr

Brooks has been phenomenal for the Ducks this season and has one last chance to make his case for the best player in the Pac 12. He leads the team with 15.6 points per game and contributes all across the board. He’ll take on Stephen Thompson Jr who leads the /Beavers with a respectable 16.4 points of his own to go along with 3.2 assists.

Advice

18 points on the road is a lot to cover, but this Ducks team beat the Beavers by more than 40 their last time out! Take Oregon on the spread on the road in an important game for their seeding in the upcoming tournament.

Pick

Oregon
82
Oregon State
78

Seton Hall Pirates at #13 Butler Bulldogs

Spread

  • Seton Hall (+8.5) at Butler (-8.5)

Butler made the biggest jump in the Top-25 this week with big wins over number 2 Villanova and Xavier. They have secured second in the Big East and a spot in the NCAA tournament but a nice run here late can only improve their seeding. On the other hand, Seton Hall has brought themselves back into the tournament picture and win against the 13th ranked team in country could only help sealing the deal.

What a week it was for Butler. They went into the Pavilion and snapped Nova’s 48 game on-campus home winning streak and that was after being down 7 with just over 10 minutes to go. This Bulldogs team rattled off 18 straight points and shocked the country. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were wondering what happened to Butler while they dropped 3 of 4. Now their top-100 offense is scoring above their 77.4 points per game average and their 84th ranked defense held Villanova to just 66 points. Butler is coming into form at the right time.

The same can be said for the Pirates. Wallowing at 3-6 in conference play the season looked to be lost. Since then they have gone 6-2 including a win over then 20th ranked Creighton and have put themselves right back into the tournament picture. A win is also key here for the Big East tournament, they secure a spot in the 4-5 game/quarterfinals with a victory. The Pirates will need to be strong on the boards, they are ranked 16th in the nation and cannot allow extra possessions for the efficient Butler offense.

Key Matchup

Khadeen Carrington v. Kamar Baldwin

Carrington has been tremendous for the Pirates this season averaging 17 points per game while running the offense for 33 of the 40 minutes each game. Baldwin’s task will be to slow down Carrington. The freshman has been solid on the defensive side of the ball with 1.8 steals per game and chipping in over 10 points as well.

Advice

Butler is playing great and is a far more well-rounded team. But the Big East is always tough and the Pirates are no exception. I like the Bulldogs here but 8.5 points seems like a lot to give to a 19-10 Seton Hall squad.

Pick

Butler
70
Seton Hall
65

#7 Arizona Wildcats at Arizona State Sun Devils

Spread

  • Arizona (-9.5) st Arizona State (+9.5)

Arizona is coming in off a disappointing loss to then number 5 UCLA which probably cost them a chance at the outright Pac-12 title. However, this game still has a lot of implications for the Wildcats as a win secures them at least a share of the title. It’s been a disappointing season for ASU but they have had success of late against their state rival and will be looking for the upset.

Arizona is deep, really deep. They have five players who average more than double digits in points. They were without their now leading scorer for much the season and that didn’t slow them down. Their defense is solid at 30th in the country and yet somehow when the Wildcats travel to ASU it’s a problem. They have dropped 3 of their last 5 there and coach Sean Miller is a meager 4-3 overall at ASU. There’s a natural reason for it, state rivals often get up for these games but Arizona is far too talented and there’s too much on the line to look past this Sun Devils team.

ASU has a great offense. Led by senior Torian Graham’s 18.3 points per game they are scoring at solid 79.3 points per game clip and have the 51st best offense. What hasn’t been good enough is the defense. At 335th in the nation the 81.8 points per game they have to overcome have been too much on most nights. They’ve also giving up 80+ in their last 4 games.

Key Matchup

Allonso Trier v Torian Graham

Allonso Trier missed the first 19 games for Arizona after he tested positive for a banned substance he said he was unaware he took. Since returning he’s been nothing short of fantastic. His 16.2 points per game lead the team and he just dropped a career high 28 points against UCLA.  Graham’s job will be two-fold. The first to try and slow down the red-hot sophomore from Arizona but also keep up with him in the points department as the Sun Devils are unlikely to put the brakes on Arizona’s offense.

Advice

History aside, the Wildcats are too good to lose here. They dumped the Sun Devils by 16 last time out and that was without Trier. Coach Miller knows the trap game that is ASU and will have his team ready to secure a piece of the Pac-12 title.

Pick

Arizona
88
Arizona State
68

#11 Baylor Bears at Texas Longhorns

Spread

  • Baylor (-6) at Texas (+6)

There’s a lot to play for when it comes to Baylor in their regular season finale.  For Texas? Not so much. The Bears can secure a 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament win and perhaps more important avoid a red-hot Oklahoma State side. Texas on the other hand is 10-20 and having a woeful conference run at 4-13.

Baylor hasn’t looked like it’s top-25 self as of late. They have dropped 3 of their last 5 and 5 of their last 9 to give up any shot at a conference title. Two of those losses came to now number 1 Kansas and were both very close games. Flip those scores around and Baylor is looking a shot at the conference title. With all that said they banked a lot of wins early in the year and those games count just as much as one’s in February. Their defense is one of the best at 16th in country and have lost just a single game when they hold an offense under their 60 points. Advantage Baylor there as Texas’ offense is a mere 298th in the nation.

Texas has struggled on offense but their defense has been above average holding teams to under 70 points per game. That has led to a lot of tough losses. 14 out 30 of their games have been settled by 5 points or less and 10 of their defeats, by just 3 or less points. That’s a tough oil to swallow when you’re 10-20 and winless on the road trying to figure out how to get the job done late in games.

Key Matchup

Johnathan Motley v. Jarrett Allen

The two forwards should be matched up for a lot of the game and the freshman from Texas will be in tough against the junior. Motley has made the final-10 for player of the year in the Big 12 and it’s easy to see why. He’s averaging almost a double-double at 17.5 PPG and 9.7 APG and has been huge in a lot of tight games for the Bears. Allen will need to be strong on defense or at the very least will get a nice lesson against one of the Big 12’s best.

Advice

I’m surprised at the spread being just 6 points. Yes, Texas has been in a lot of close games and Baylor is struggling but their last win against WVU was impressive. Motley is one of 3 players who are likely to win Big 12 player of the year so expect him to put a stamp on his season and the Bears to handle the Longhorns.

Pick

Baylor
75
Texas
62

Memphis Tigers at #14 SMU Mustangs

Spread

  • Memphis (+14.5) at SMU (-14.5)

SMU is having one heck of a season and are in position for an outright AAC title with a victory over Memphis. The Mustangs are a game up on Cincinnati and are secured at least a piece of the title. Memphis’ tournament hopes took a real blow over the last couple of weeks. The Tigers have dropped 5 of 7 and are now 19-11 on the year.

The Mustangs have one of the best defenses in the country giving up under 60 points a game, they are ranked 3rd in the nation. They are undefeated at home this season and the senior class has more wins than any class in program history. Much of this can be attributed to the hiring of legendary coach Larry Brown but even without him this season they have been spectacular. Only 2 of their last 12 wins at home have come by less than double digits and one of those games was a 9-point win over the Bearcats.

The Tigers got back on track with a nice win over Tulane 92-70 but the four-game losing streak that preceded that has really derailed their year. Memphis will be playing post season basketball but at what tournament is the question. They have a well-organized defense giving up less than 70 points per game but their offense is strong too. They move the ball well with 36th most assists per game. Dedric Lawson is much the reason for that averaging a double-double this year.

Key Matchup

Semi Ojeleye v. Dedric Lawson

As mentioned, Lawson has been spectacular all year. He has averaged 19.6 points per game along with 10.1 assists and has proved himself to be one of the best players in AAC. Ojeleye has also been great since moving from Duke where he saw limited minutes. With this expected to be a low-scoring game Lawson will need to get hot to keep up with the Mustangs.

Advice

This game means a lot to both teams. Memphis has struggled of late however and when SMU wins it wins big. They are a whopping 19-6-1 against the spread one of the best teams for that stat and the spread is often around this number. The Mustangs are tough at home and I think they win easily.

Pick

SMU
84
Memphis
60

#25 Miami Hurricanes at #15 Florida State Seminoles

Spread

  • Miami (+7) at Florida State (-7)

The ACC is undoubtedly the best conference in the nation this year. They have 7 teams in the top-25 and are likely to send 9 or 10 teams to the big dance. We have two of them squaring off here. The Hurricanes have found their way back into the top-25 with strong play of late. FSU needs a win for seeding in the ACC tournament where they can climb as high as 4th and its 1st and 2nd round byes or as low as 8th.

The Hurricanes are playing like a much different team from when they were destroyed at home by the Seminoles 75-57 on February 1st. They’ve won 7 of 9 including wins over then 18 Virginia and then number 10 Duke. What was most impressive perhaps were they held those two offenses to 48 and 50 points respectively with their 22nd ranked offense. They did lose a tough road game against Virginia Tech team that has been ranked many weeks this season and is almost assuredly in the NCAA tournament.

How good has FSU been this year at home? How about undefeated good! Their 16th ranked offense has scored 109, 95, 104 points in their last 3 wins in Tallahassee. Going just 5-3 in their last 8 games has led to a few questions but the losses were all on the road and two of them were to Notre Dame and Duke both ranked in the top-25 this week. Scoring made be at a premium however, so they will need to shore up their porous defense if the want to cap off the year perfect at home.

Key Matchup

Davon Reed v. Dwayne Bacon

A great guard matchup in this ACC battle. Reed is having his best season as a Hurricane. The senior has improved his MPG and PPG every in Miami. He will attempt to keep the sophomore from FSU in check. Their offense has been clicking as of late and Reed is key to the stout Hurricane defense.

Advice

These are two very good teams in a very good conference. I like the way Miami has been playing of late and if they can stop the Seminoles offense they might grab this outright. They have ranked wins over Duke, UNC and Virginia but have lost to the other 5 ranked opponents they have played against. I think this one is low scoring and Miami sneaks it out.

Pick

Miami
59
Florida State
56

#1 Kansas Jayhawks at Oklahoma State Cowboys

Spread

  • Kansas (+1) at Oklahoma State (-1)

Both teams have a lot already secured coming into this one. The Jayhawks have won their 13th straight conference title and all the perks that come with it for seeding in the Big 12 tournament and NCAA tourney. The Cowboys are 5th in the conference but a win could bolster their rank in the big dance.

It has taken 17 weeks but Kansas is finally number 1 in the country. It’s a fair distinction although I wouldn’t say they are an overwhelming number 1. They have lost just 3 times all year and they were all to ranked teams. A 4-3 mark against top-25 teams doesn’t jump the page but their last two ins against ranked opponents were against then number 9 WVU and at then number 4 Baylor. They are the team of now and with likes of Gonzaga and Villanova stumbling as of late they were a natural selection. They are deep and have one of the best players in the nation in Frank Mason III.

There are few hotter teams than Oklahoma State over the past month. They have won 10 of 12 including a nice win over then #7 WVU. However, that was their only win over a ranked opponent, they are 1-6 against the top-25 this year. Their offense has been phenomenal ranked 9th in the country they can run with anyone and may need to against the Jayhawks. It’s their defense that has let them down and may be exploited by Mason III and his Kansas squad.

Key Matchup

Frank Mason III v. Jawun Evans

Mason III has made unbelievable strides in his senior year and at 23 he has plenty of experience over the majority of guards he goes up against. His 20.3 points per game lead the conference but right behind him with 18.6 is Evans. Mason III isn’t a first round pick and may never have a significant career in the NBA so he is playing like a man possessed this season. If he gets his normal minutes Evans will be in tough.

Advice

The spread seems out of whack to me. The Cowboys are good but -1 against the best team in the land? Perhaps the line makers are expecting a lot of rest for Bill Self’s key players. It is senior night in Stillwater and OSU has won 3 straight at home against KU. I still think the Jayhawks get it done.

Pick

Kansas
88
Oklahoma State
81

#17 Duke Blue Devils at #5 North Carolina Tar Heels

Spread

  • Duke (+7) at North Carolina (-7)

Nothing says college basketball like Duke v. UNC. The longtime rivalry already had one thrilling game under its belt this season. Still lots to play for too. UNC needs a win to secure an outright conference title and Duke could land anywhere from the 3rd to 7th seed in the ACC tournament.

Duke was the preseason favorite this year and didn’t look like it through stretches of this season. Their coach was out after surgery for a few weeks and they dropped 3 of 4. They also dropped back to back games recently to Syracuse and Miami although both were on the road.  Nonetheless when Duke is on they can beat anyone in the country. They are well rounded with both their offense and defense in the top-100 and Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen are one of the best guard combos in college hoops.

UNC is looking to get back to the national championship finals but have lots of work to do before that. They boast a dominant offense that is 11th in the country and 4th in assists. Add to that the fact that no one pulls down more boards than the Tar Heels. They are coming off a bad loss to Virginia who held them to just 43 points and have already lost to Duke once this season.

Key Matchup

Luke Kennard v. Justin Jackson

These two are neck and neck for player of the year in the ACC and the winner of this game may just push themselves over the line. The Cavaliers did a great job shutting down the Tar Heels swingman last time out. He had just 7 points compared to his 18.4 average per game. Kennard shares control of the offense with Allen and when he’s off the ball he can get a lot of good looks.

Advice

Duke has been playing some great basketball of late and although UNC has a lot to play for they may know if they have the ACC outright already wrapped up before tip-off. Notre Dame needs a road win against a tough Louisville squad to make this important to UNC assuming that doesn’t happen the old Duke/UNC rivalry always gets these two up. I like Duke here though in a tight game.

Pick

Duke
84
UNC
83

Washington State Cougars at #3 UCLA Bruins

Spread

  • Washington State (+22) at UCLA (-22)

No one has been better than UCLA in February going 8-0 in the month including impressive wins against Oregon and at Arizona. However, they’ll need both those teams to lose to grab a piece of the Pac-12 title and that just isn’t going to happen. The Cougars had righted the ship a bit winning two-straight after dropping five in arrow, but lost last time out to USC.

What can’t you say about UCLA? They have the nation’s best offense, number one in FG% and assists per game. They have big personalities that get it done on the court and one of the best young guards in college hoops. Alright their defense isn’t great and they will be without freshman standout TJ Leaf who leads the Bruins in points and rebounds per game. At home against unranked teams the Bruins have been blowing opponents out may very well do that again.

The Cougars lack ability on both sides of the ball. They give up 6.2 points per game more than they score and that is why they sit 13-16 on the year and 6-11 in the very good Pac-12 conference. They did have a nice road win against Arizona State 8 games ago, but this is not ASU. They’ll need to play way above their heads for a shot or hope the Bruins rest some key guys with not a lot on the line at Pauley Pavilion.

Key Matchup

Ike Iroegbu v. Lonzo Ball

We all know about Ball’s breakout season by now. The freshman has stormed onto the scene averaging 15 PPG, 7.6 APG and 6.3RPG in what will undoubtedly be his only season in the NCAA. What is on the line is a nice little freshman Pac-12 record for Ball. He needs 3 assists to pass Gary Payton’s conference record from 1986-87. Iroegbu will be matched up with Ball and the senior will need to rely on all of his experience to try and stymie the UCLA offense.

Advice

UCLA wins regardless of who plays for the Bruins. If the starters stay on the court this may be a big blowout. Keeping that in mind 22 points is a lot to give up in a semi meaningless game but a loss here and UCLA won’t be a 1-seed in the NCAA tourney so I think they show up guns a blazing.

Pick

UCLA
93
Washington State
60
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