UCLA are looking for the wins needed to tie up the Pac-12 regular-season conference title. Standing in their way on Thursday night is the Utah Utes. The Utes are on a two-match losing streak, so they’re going to need a huge improvement in form if they are to prevent the in-form Bruins from making it seven wins in a row. Here we take a look ahead to the match with our latest NCAAB betting picks.
- What; NCAAB
- Who; Utah Utes vs UCLA Bruins
- Where; Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
- When; Thursday, February 23rd, 2023
- Start Time; 11 pm ET
The UCLA Bruins are quietly building towards the mayhem of March Madness. For some weeks they have now been sitting just outside the top four in the betting to win the 2023 National Championship. And while the likes of Houston, Alabama, and Purdue are getting a lot of attention, the Bruins have been quietly going about their business.
It’s not gone totally unnoticed though. The best NCAAB college basketball betting sites make Mick Cronin’s team their fifth favorites at +1200 to win the National Championship. In the betting to make the Final Four, the best March Madness betting sites have UCLA at +300.
Again, this makes the Bruins fifth favorites. In the betting to reach the Final Four, Houston (+125) are again the favorites. Making up the rest of the top five in the betting is Alabama (+170), Purdue (+200) and Kansas (+250).
|To Qualify for Final Four Betting|
Betting to win the 2023 National Championship
Elsewhere, and in the NCAAB National Championship it’s still the Houston Cougars who are leading the way. The Cougars are +750, just ahead of Alabama at +800. Following on from the leading two is Purdue and Kansas, both at +1000. Then comes UCLA.
The Houston Cougars have been leading this market for some weeks now. They have seen the gap in the betting odds between themselves and Alabama shorten. At the start of the year, Houston was +600, with Alabama at +1000.
It’s now a lot tighter than that, and this is even after Houston replaced Alabama at the top of the college basketball rankings earlier this week. Alabama only topped the rankings for one week. As for Houston, this is the third time this season they’ve been ranked number one.
Houston jumped over Alabama and back into the top spot of the AP poll, where they spent two weeks in November and December and had another two-week stint last month.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) February 21, 2023
Utes looking to end mini-slump
The Utes sit in fifth position in the Pac-12 with a conference record of 10-7. Overall, they are 17-11 this season. At the moment, Utah are on a losing run of two. The two defeats have both happened on the road. First they lost 88-62 away to Arizona last week. They then followed that up with another defeat in the same state. This time it was a 67-59 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils at the weekend.
Prior to those two defeats, the Utes scored home wins over (California 61-46) and Colorado (73-62). The up and down nature of Utah’s results sums up their season. A couple of wins followed by a couple of losses is representative of where Utah currently is as a team.
Bruins looking to lock up the Pac-12 title
As we mentioned at the top of the preview, UCLA still needs some more regular-season wins to lock up the Pac-12 title. They should get the job done from here though. The only thing that can prevent them winning the title is self implosion. And if recent form is anything to go by, that looks highly unlikely to happen.
The Bruins have been relentless recently, racking up six wins on the bounce. The winning streak has seen UCLA rise to fourth in the latest college basketball rankings. In fairness, some of the six wins haven’t come against the toughest of opponents, with their latest win over California a prime example.
The Bruins extended their 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤 to 𝐬𝐢𝐱 games last night, taking down California, 78-43.
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) February 19, 2023
Prior to the six match winning run, the Bruins did suffer back-to-back defeats at the hands of Arizona (58-52) and USC (77-64). But those losses came after a 14-match winning streak. All this shows that the Bruins are a red-hot team, and it’s going to take a lot for Utah to stop their march towards the Pac-12 title.
Utah vs UCLA Betting and Picks
There’s no point beating around the bush on this one, we don’t see Utah being able to upset UCLA when they meet at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Thursday. The top sportsbooks seem to agree, with Bovada making UCLA their -305 favorites to win on the moneyline. Utah is +225. You can read more about this top college basketball betting site at our Bovada sportsbook review.
We did think that UCLA may be shorter than -305, but we still believe a bet on the handicap is better value. And the handicap spread has been set at seven points in favor of Utah. Both the Utes (+7) and the Bruins (-7) are -110 in this market. In the total points spread, the total is 131.5, both over and under is -110.
In the Bruins last two away matches, they’ve won by seven (vs Oregon) and 15 (vs Oregon State). Yes, different sides, but when everything is weighed up, we can only see reasons why the Bruins will beat the spread. So UCLA Bruins to win on the handicap is our match pick.