NCAA Betting Preview: UCLA at Washington Huskies

By: Brad Young | Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The UCLA Bruins will be in Seattle on Thursday to take on the Washington Huskies.

Two of the Pac-10 Conference’s premier programs collide Thursday night when UCLA (21-8 straight up, 14-14-1 against the spread) visits Washington (19-9 SU, 14-11-1 ATS).

The Bruins are currently locked in a first-place tie in the Pac-10 standings with Arizona at 12-4, while the Huskies are third at 10-6. If the regular season ended today, UCLA would be the second seed in the Pac-10 Tournament while Washington would be third.  These two teams would be destined to meet in the tournament semifinals, a crucial contest for two teams trying to improve their NCAA Tournament resumes.

Both the Bruins and Huskies are expected to be around an eighth or a ninth seed for the Big Dance.  However, there are still two more games in the regular season to create momentum heading into March Madness.

UCLA forced its way into a first-place tie by routing the Wildcats Saturday as 2 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ 71-49.  The combined 120 points never seriously threatened the 141-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the second consecutive contest.

The Bruins opened up a 10-point halftime advantage, 40-30, before dominating the second half with their defense, 31-19.  UCLA controlled the game in rebounding, 38-23, and assists, 18-7, while shooting a blistering 53 percent (28-of-53) from the field.  The Bruins were a dismal 18 percent from 3-point land (2-of-11), but had 50 points in the paint.

Forward Reeves Nelson stepped up with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Honeycutt provided 15 and five.  Center Joshua Smith was the only other player to reach double digits in scoring with 17.

Washington was the preseason favorite to win the Pac-10, but the team has had to battle injuries and inconsistency.  The Huskies suffered their second straight conference setback with Sunday’s loss to rival Washington State as a 12-point home favorite, 80-69.  The combined 149 points went ‘under’ the 157-point closing total.

Washington scored just 17 points in the first half and trailed by seven, then erupted for 52 points after halftime while yielding 56.  The Huskies led in rebounding, 42-35, and assists, 13-9, but shot just 34 percent (23-of-68) from the field and 30 percent (8-of-27) from behind the arc.

Guard Isaiah Thomas paced the offense with 21 points and five assists, while forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 14 and 10 rebounds.  Forward Justin Holiday had a solid effort with 11, four and five in the setback.

Washington has beaten UCLA the previous two encounters SU and ATS after winning the lone meeting this season Dec. 31 as a four-point road ‘chalk,’ 74-63.  The combined 137 points never seriously threatened the 151 ½-point closing total.  The Bruins are just 1-7 ATS the past eight games in this series.

UCLA concludes its regular season with Saturday’s matchup at Washington State.  The Bruins are 6-2 ATS their previous eight outings overall, with the ‘under’ going 6-2.

Washington guard Scott Suggs (knee) is ‘probable’ versus the Bruins.  The Huskies wrap up their regular season with Saturday’s home game against Southern Cal.  Washington is 9-4 ATS its last 13 home endeavors, while the ‘over’ is 10-4 the past 14 home games.

ESPN2 will provide coverage of Thursday’s matchup beginning at 6:00 p.m. PT from Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena.  The broadcast is preceded by the Big East contest between St. John's and Seton Hall.

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