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UCLA Bruins vs. Arizona Wildcats Gambling & NCAA Handicapping Prediction

UCLA vs Arizona CBB Picks

Championship Week has nearly reached its conclusion, and in the Pac-12, the title game comes down to a matchup between the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats and the No. 2 UCLA Bruins.  [ad-4468020]

Pac 12 Tourney Title Game
UCLA (25-8, 12-16 Pac-12) @ No. 4 Arizona (30-3, 15-3 Pac-12)
Saturday, March 15 6:00 PM ET @ Las Vegas, Nev.
Spread: Arizona -5.5 / OU: 138

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Entering the contest, the Bruins remained unranked nationally while the Wildcats boast the No. 4 mark nationwide.

The two prestigious programs only faced off once during the regular season: a 79-75 win in favor of the then-No. 1 Wildcats.

UCLA

The UCLA Bruins have made a cakewalk out of their conference tournament thus far. Following a bye in Round 1, the team from Southern California took down the inconsistent, yet incredibly hot Oregon Ducks in blowout fashion. The game ended 82-63, giving the team all the momentum it needed in its matchup with in-state rival Stanford Cardinal. The Bruins got back to work once more with a second-straight blowout win in the conference semifinals.

Now, with the conference championship officially on the line, the competition is about to ramp up significantly with the Arizona Wildcats waiting around the corner.

Like the Bruins, Arizona has had no trouble at this point in the tournament. There’s a reason it is the fourth-ranked team in the entire country, and the fact that it wins with defense makes its chances even more reliable.
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What UCLA must do against the Wildcats is put the ball in the bucket early and often. Despite being third in the nation in steals with 9.6 per game, the Bruins are just 207th in points allowed.

You can’t expect the defense to step up at this point in the year—albeit it against a subpar offensive unit—but if they can hold true to their offense, which scored 82 points a night on the season (11th in the country), they will force Arizona’s hand and make it uncomfortable until the final buzzer.

Arizona

Defense, defense, defense. It’s how the Arizona Wildcats have beaten their tournament opponents by an average of 26 points per game, and it’s how they’ll hope to combat one of the most potent offenses in the nation.

Following the Round 3 matchup against Colorado, Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle had high praise for this group. “If Arizona makes shots and the way they guard consistently,” he stated, per ESPN, “they’ve got a chance to win a national championship.”

Boyle is right, which is why the Bruins must focus on either putting a halt to the Wildcats’ offensive production or paying extra attention to pushing the tempo and getting good looks.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, if the Wildcats’ defense is as efficient as it’s been thus fan on Saturday, UCLA’s goal of simply running Arizona out of the gym becomes far less likely.

Prediction: Arizona 76 – UCLA 68

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