The Arizona State Sun Devils look to continue their momentum after a game winner in their last game out against in-state rival Arizona. They now continue their stretch of elite Pac 12 play by hitting the road and taking on the UCLA Bruins as a +11.5 underdog. Their luck is poised to run out as the Bruins are going to take care of business with a relentless offensive assault.
Arizona State Vs. UCLA Odds
Oddsmakers didn’t have high expectations for the Sun Devils going into this one either as they opened Arizona State as a +13 underdog. Bettors on the other hand are riding the recency bias, backing them down to +11.5 as of writing. Factoring in home court advantage, projections have the current number of +11.5 just about right with the fair number sitting at +12. UCLA has also been prone to laying an egg late in sleepy situations, relaxing on the defensive end and allowing a back door opportunity.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a moderate pace by opening the number at 133.5. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either end, keeping the total the same as the opening number as of writing. This brings some intrigue as the Sun Devils will be a wildcard towards the fate of this total. The Bruins have run as one of the most complete units in basketball, ranking top-25 on both ends of the court in efficiency per Kenpom. The Sun Devils offense has been less than ideal, sitting at 116th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
Arizona State Vs. UCLA Prediction & Pick
The Pick: UCLA team total over 72.5
With the Sun Devils bringing too much variance towards the full game total, I will stick with just backing the Bruins towards their own number on a team total over ticket. The current number is 72.5 and looks to stay firm at that number with the full game total staying the same as well as of writing. This negates the anemic offensive lulls that the Sun Devils are prone to, as well as backing a style of offense that is capable of cracking any elite defense.
Keeping up their hyper efficiency on offense is exactly what we need as the Sun Devils have run as an impressive defensive unit. They currently rank 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. A brunt of their defensive success comes off the backs of their ability to smother looks at the rim, holding opponents to 46% in effective field goal percentage. What plays more friendly towards our ticket is that the Sun Devils have actually regressed as of late, dropping to 51.2% in their last three contests per TeamRankings.
Their defensive struggles are poised to continue as they now have to figure out a way to limit the Bruins unique offensive assault. UCLA plays a more old school approach, looking to get looks at the rim and pulling up in the mid-range when they have a defender reeling in a pick and roll set. This style of play has equated to a 22nd ranked Adjusted Offensive Efficiency metric, generating high quality looks at an above average rate consistently per Shot Quality.
Especially in pick and roll sets, ran at the fourth most frequent rate in the nation per Shot Quality. This is a tough scheme to defend against, constantly being exploited for which decision you make by either going under or over the screener. This forces defenses to collapse into the interior, leaving the perimeter wide open for the Bruins to do damage from as well.
Arizona State Vs. UCLA Key Matchups
Can UCLA turn their defense into offense for quick points in transition?
Arizona State offense vs UCLA havoc
While I fully expect UCLA to find consistency on the offensive end, it’s their ability to generate havoc on the defensive end that will give us the extra benefit towards the over.
Even undersized in the interior by lacking a true big man, the UCLA Bruins have maintained an elite defensive rank by hounding ball handlers across the middle. Per TeamRankings, UCLA forces opposing offenses into turnover situations that is good for 14th best in the nation.
Their ability to generate turnovers and get out and run for easy transition points will be the key factor towards our over. This combats the Bruins slow tempo, as well as give their offense extra possessions to work with.
Back the Bruins on their team total over as they should find scoring consistency throughout the full course of the game.