UCLA’s journey to conquer the state of Oregon continues after thwarting Oregon State in their previous matchup. They now get the Oregon Ducks who are coming off an impressive win over USC. It’s been a down year for the Ducks, currently sitting at 15-10. They now get a chance to turn around their season and build some momentum for a late push should they take care of business on their home court.
UCLA Vs. Oregon Odds
As for how oddsmakers perceive their chances of pulling it off, they actually have this as a tight contest as they opened the Ducks as a +3.5 underdog. Bettors were quick to back the Ducks, taking them down to +2.5 as of writing. This may have some recency bias after their win against the Trojans, a team that gave UCLA fits earlier in the season. They are built well to slow down the Bruins offensive attack, but they will need to find scoring success should they want to get the win.
Speaking of offense, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 134.5. Bettors have sided with the under, taking it down to as low as 133.5 in some shops. As previously mentioned, Oregon runs a scheme similar to that of the Trojans who have already shown the ability to slow down the Bruins offensive attack. They will need every ounce of that defensive success to help out their mediocre scoring as the Bruins are an elite defensive unit as well.
UCLA Vs. Oregon Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 133.5
With that said, I will take the under at no lower than the current number as we are in for a clunker of a Pac 12 after dark game. A clunker is exactly what we are hoping for with an under ticket as I believe points are not going to come by so easily. Especially on the Bruins end, facing an Oregon defense that is well equipped to slow them down with their zone. Oregon’s defense currently ranks 64th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
While their efficiency ranking is not top tier by any means, they have a scheme that is equipped to slow down the Bruins backed behind elite coaching. Oregon will look to run their zone at a heavier rate than normal, a zone that suffocates any opposing player who is looking to create a shot in the middle. They may also create havoc opportunities, cutting off the ball handler on pick and rolls at one of the highest rates in the nation.
That is exactly what the Bruins offense is built off of, finding mid-range jump shots in the interior when a defense is spread thin. Without consistency in their shot selections in the middle, this forces the Bruins offense to scramble and find success from the perimeter. This is not an ideal scheme to build your success off of, especially since they lack size to abuse the block for higher quality looks. They have fared around average from deep, shooting 35.7% as a unit.
Slowing down UCLA is easier said than done, but Oregon did manage some sort of success in their earlier matchup against the Bruins. While it did eventually lead to a loss, they did hold UCLA to only 21 points in the first half in their last matchup. Their offensive inconsistencies give me pause on backing the Ducks to get the upset, forcing me to just comfortably stick with the full game under.
UCLA Vs. Oregon Key Matchups
Can UCLA’s defense slow down the red-hot Oregon offense?
Oregon scoring output vs UCLA interior defense
I use the term red hot with haste as the Duck’s offense has been a roller coaster in efficiency throughout the season. It should be noted that they have fared well as of late, scoring 75 points or more in their last three contests. This unit currently ranks 31st in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
That level of play will not be easy to come by this time around as the Bruins defense has run as one of the best units in the nation, ranking top-3 in AdjD. They are very Havoc minded, punishing opposing offenses who put the ball on the deck across the middle.
That spells doom for Oregon’s offense, a unit that builds their success around the interior. Lacking a perimeter presence, the Ducks will look to attack the paint. UCLA is equipped to slow this down, stacking down low while looking to generate turnovers with a nose for the ball.
With UCLA’s offense expected to struggle against Oregon’s zone defense, I will take the under at no lower than the current number.