Stanford Cardinals vs. UCLA Bruins
The Stanford Cardinal and the UCLA Bruins open up their Pac-12 schedules as they meet in Palo Alto on Thursday. The Cardinals are -6.5 point favorites over the Bruins with an over/under point total set at 127.
Stanford is off to a decent start to the year as Johnny Dawkins team is 10-2 heading into conference play but with the Pac-12 getting little respect from the NCAA selection committee in recent years they are going to need to do something special to be dancing this March. Stanford has played just one team ranked in the top 25 taking a respectable six point loss to Syracuse at Madison Square Garden but after putting together five wins the Cardinal are coming off of a tough loss to a sub-par Butler team. Josh Owens is averaging 12.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, Chasson Randle is averaging 11.8 points, and Aaron Bright is averaging 11.3 points. As a team Stanford is averaging 74 points and they are shooting 47.5 percent while defensively they are allowing 57.3 points, they are 16th in the nation in defensive rebounding, and their opponents shoot just 40.2 percent from the floor. After the Butler loss I am less convinced Stanford is a real threat but they will have plenty of games to redeem themselves in the coming months.
The UCLA Bruins got off to a horrible start this season but Ben Howland’s team has won their last five games in a row and appear to be playing better basketball. While the record is improving the schedule has gotten softer for UCLA so we will find out which has had more to do with their recent success. Lazeric Jones is averaging 13.2 points, Travis Wear is averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds, David Wear is averaging 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds, and Jermaine Anderson is averaging 9.3 points. As a team UCLA is averaging 69.6 points and they are shooting 44.7 percent while defensively they are allowing 63 points and their opponents shoot 42 percent. Overall UCLA has played the 143rd ranked schedule and it doesn’t project to get too much more difficult.
Stanford is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against a team with a winning record, 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against the Pac-12, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games against a team with a losing road record. UCLA is 4-1 against the spread in their last five Pac-12 games, 7-3 against the spread following a game which they didn’t cover, and 2-6 against the spread against a team with a winning record. The favorite is 4-1-1 against the spread in the last six meetings of these two.
This game sets up to be close as conference play generally is and I look for the Bruins to keep it tight enough to at least get the cover here.
UCLA Bruins +6.5 Stanford Cardinals