Washington Huskies at (12) Utah Utes (-12, 126.5 o/u)
With eight wins in their last nine games, the Utah Utes (15-3, 5-1 Pac-12) could be considered one of the hottest teams in college basketball right now. However, the team recently received a wake-up call when they traveled to Arizona to face the No. 7 Wildcats, getting demolished 69-51.
The Utes rebounded with a win over Washington State (86-64) in their last outing, and they’ll look to make it two in a row tonight when they host the Washington Huskies (14-4, 3-3 Pac-12) at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City (8:30 p.m. Eastern).
Despite the decisive loss to Arizona, Utah is off to a strong start in conference play, beating USC, UCLA, Colorado, Arizona State, and Washington State en route to a 5-1 record (tied for first with Arizona).
This season, the Utes have tended to rely on dynamic guard Delon Wright – with a side of big-bodied forward Jordan Loveridge – to lead the offense; but, in the thrashing of the Cougars last Wednesday, it was the diminutive Brandon Taylor who took charge. The 5’10” guard, who averages just over ten points per game, had 18 points and eight assists in the win.
Taylor credited the loss to Arizona for getting the team motivated to play against Washington State.
“You hate to have games like that one [against Arizona], but you need to have them. It exposed our weaknesses. But tonight I think we took the fight to them the way Arizona took the fight to us,” Taylor said. “At the end of every game, I want to be able to tell myself I helped my team win this game. I helped elevate my teammates.”
The Washington Huskies, who were once ranked as high as 13th in the nation, are back to their winning ways. The team dropped four straight starting in late December, but have rebounded with three wins in a row, all against conference foes (Oregon, Oregon State, and Colorado).
Their last win was a close 52-50 triumph over on the road in Boulder; Nigel Williams-Goss scored 16 for the Huskies, who pulled out the win despite shooting 36% from the floor.
The Huskies have not been a terribly good bet this season, going 9-8 ATS on the season. The Utes, however, were one of the surprise teams of the early going, and have shot their way to a 13-4 ATS record.
Washington has been up and down on the road this year, beating the overmatched Seattle Redhawks and the Buffaloes, while dropping games at Cal and Stanford. The Utes, meanwhile, are undefeated at home on the year and have covered the spread in five of the last seven against Washington.
Look for the Utes to win this one going away.
(Photo credit: Dave Sizer (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)