Best College Basketball Bets: Our Picks for (3) UCLA vs (7) Arizona, (2) Gonzaga vs San Diego, and More

By Sidelines   February 3, 2022 

Best College Basketball Bets: Our Picks for (3) UCLA vs (7) Arizona, (2) Gonzaga vs San Diego, and More

Illinois and Marquette made statements last night, beating higher-ranked teams (Wisconsin and Villanova, respectively) at home convincingly to solidify their spots as favorites in their respective conferences. The Illini now share the Big Ten lead with Michigan State, and while the Golden Eagles are three games behind Providence in the Big East, they have been very strong as of late (7-1 in their last eight games after an 0-3 start in the league) and are the only team to have beaten the Friars in conference play.

Tonight, the attention turns to the west, as the Pac-12’s best battle for the second time in just over a week when No. 3 UCLA visits No. 7 Arizona in Tucson. The only other ranked teams in action are also out west, as No. 19 USC visits Arizona State and No. 2 Gonzaga is a heavy favorite at San Diego. 

We start, however, with the big matchup in the desert for tonight’s NCAAB best bets in men’s college basketball.

(3) UCLA Bruins vs. (7) Arizona Wildcats

The Bet: UCLA +7

UCLA Bruins guard Peyton Watson (23) shoots while Stanford Cardinal forward Brandon Angel (23) defends during the second half at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom | Sidelines
UCLA Bruins guard Peyton Watson (23) shoots while Stanford Cardinal forward Brandon Angel (23) defends during the second half at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The oddsmakers definitely believe that the Wildcats are the better team here, as they were installed as 2.5-point road favorites at Pauley Pavilion last week, where the Bruins steadily dominated their foe 75-59, sending the Wildcats to their first Pac-12 loss. Both teams lead the conference at 6-1, so the winner tonight has the inside track on the regular-season conference title and the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament. 

What we like about UCLA getting seven points tonight is the way they’re playing on defense. They held the Wildcats to just 30% shooting in their first meeting, which could be waved off as an off-night for Arizona, who is averaging 86 points per game. But this has been part of a trend for UCLA. The Bruins are allowing 64 points per game on the season, but after an overtime loss to Oregon on Jan. 13, UCLA has held each of their next six opponents to 65 points or fewer, including just 43 to Stanford in their last game.

The Wildcats have played just once since that loss to the Bruins–they beat in-state rival Arizona State at home, 67-56, so their shooting woes continued. Recent history also favors UCLA, as they have won and covered in six-straight games in the series and are 8-0 in their last eight at Arizona. Arizona, meanwhile, is just 3-6 ATS in their last nine games overall. While they may very well hold serve on their home floor, we feel the seven points is just too many to give the Bruins.

(2) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. San Diego Toreros

The Bet: Gonzaga -22

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson (22) shoots the ball against Portland Pilots forward Kristian Sjolund (12) in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga won 104-72 | Sidelines
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Anton Watson (22) shoots the ball against Portland Pilots forward Kristian Sjolund (12) in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga won 104-72. James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, Gonzaga as a 22-point favorite on the road seems a bit steep, but the No. 2 Bulldogs are playing outstanding basketball. Take this into consideration: in the Zags’ current 10-game winning streak, eight of those wins game by 25 points or more, with the outlier being a 69-55 win over a ranked Texas Tech team and a very good San Francisco squad. The Bulldogs (17-2, 6-0 West Coast Conf.) are 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games, and shockingly, this is just their second road game of the season, but they won and covered in their only other one this season.

The Toreros (13-9, 6-3 WCC) come in on a six-game cover streak, but things have not gone well against Gonzaga, having lost 10-straight in the series. Last year, the Bulldogs won at home by 37 and on the road by 28. Gonzaga is also leading the nation with 91 points per game, while San Diego is ranked 266th with 68 points per contest. 

Drew Timme leads the Bulldogs with 18 points per game, but he has two 30-point efforts in his last five games, and the team overall has broken the 100-point mark in three of their last five. We don’t see the Toreros slowing the Gonzaga train down tonight.

St. John’s Red Storm vs. Georgetown Hoyas

The Bet: Under 156.5

Georgetown Hoyas guard Dante Harris (2) advances the ball as Seton Hall Pirates guard Kadary Richmond (0) defends during the second half at Capital One Arena | Sidelines
Georgetown Hoyas guard Dante Harris (2) advances the ball as Seton Hall Pirates guard Kadary Richmond (0) defends during the second half at Capital One Arena. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A traditional Big East matchup pits St. John’s, a team that has had a run against better teams in the conference and are 1-3 in that stretch, against a Georgetown team that is still searching for its first win in the conference (6-13 overall, 0-8 Big East. The Red Storm (11-9, 3-6 Big East) are coming off losses to Providence and Villanova and split a pair of games with Seton Hall.

The Johnnies are five-point favorites against the winless-in-conference Hoyas, but we hesitate to go against Georgetown, as they will eventually win a game, and their last two losses have been close (seven points to Seton Hall and three to Butler). 

Instead, take a look at the under of 156.5. Both teams are averaging and allowing in the 70s, so they have the ability to break that total, but Georgetown held their opponents to 70 and 56 points in their last two games, and St. John’s has scored in the 60s in three of their last five. The total has gone over just once in St. John’s last five games (four unders and a push), while Georgetown has gone under in two straight and in four of their last seven. Four of the last six meetings between the teams have also gone under, so we’re backing the under tonight.

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