Smart Money NCAA College Basketball Picks For 1/9/2021
A HUGE slate of college hoops today! It’s a shame that half of it has been wiped out by COVID-19. Despite losing a good chunk of the board, we still have some great plays for college basketball today with UCLA vs. Arizona and Kentucky vs. Florida.
The first is a late-night special out of the Pac-12. We have two strong college basketball teams facing off as UCLA heads to Tucson to take on Arizona.
My focus in this one is on the Bruins. UCLA has just been a great team against the spread so far this season. Their 7-3 start ATS is good for a tie for 16th in the country coming into today. They are finding ways to cover (anyone who had to sweat out the OT win against ASU on Thursday night knows what I’m talking about). But wins are wins, and I like the direction this team is headed in.
UCLA is one of the more efficient offenses in the country, ranking 42nd in that category and scoring 75.9 points per game so far in this young season.
On the flip side, we have Arizona, who is just 4-7 ATS to start the season. I’m not reading a ton into home and away splits this early in the year, but they are just 3-5 ATS at home, which doesn’t scare me off.
Both teams operate with balanced attacks and don’t necessarily have a guy who can come in and just take over a game. I think that bodes well for UCLA coming in as a road dog.
Another stat that I like that goes the way of the Bruins is strength of schedule. They've faced the 42nd-hardest schedule so far this season, as opposed to Arizona who's faced the 71st. UCLA has covered in 70% of those games, and not against rollover teams.
I’m on the points in this one and locking in UCLA, with a small sprinkle on the moneyline action.
The Pick: UCLA +2.5 (+110), Small Play on UCLA ML (+140)
First, we need to address the elephant in the room. Yes, Kentucky is 3-6 right now. WOOF.
They head to Gainesville today to take on the Gators, who are 5-2- and 4.5-point favorites. I don’t have it in me to bet a side on this game, but I do have an over/under play that I think has some legs.
After an initial look at the over/under records of these two teams so far this season, I saw another gross figure from Kentucky. Their games have gone under in seven out of their nine games out of the gate.
After digging a little deeper, I realized that the record doesn’t scare me. And I actually like the points in this matchup. All seven of those unders that I mentioned actually came in Kentucky’s first seven games. Of those seven, three of them went under by two points or less. Close, but no cigar.
Turn to their two most recent games, and they have gone over by 19 and 14.5 points. They seem to be figuring things out to a degree, and I think we are getting some value here with this line.
As for the Gators, the over has hit in five of the seven games they have played in so far this season. They are tied for 24th in the nation in points per game, scoring an average of 81.1 per game. So I’m not too worried about them holding up their end of the bargain.
Between these two teams, the over has gone 5-0 in games against SEC opponents and I don’t see that stopping today.