NCAA Basketball Handicapping: BYU Cougars vs UCLA Bruins Wooden Classic Picks

BYU Cougars at UCLA Bruins
Saturday, 12/18/10, 5:30 PM EDT
Opening Point Spread:  BYU -6
Current Betting Line:  BYU -6.5

BYU Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette leads his team against the UCLA Bruins in the John Wooden Classic

BYU will be looking to beat a second straight Pac-10 opponent following an 87-65 victory over Arizona last Saturday.  Preseason All-America candidate Jimmer Fredette scored a season-high 33 points and will now get set to play the yearly hosts of the John Wooden Classic at the Honda Center this afternoon.  “BYU is a great team,” said UCLA coach Ben Howland.  “They are very well coached.  It will be a real challenge.”  Fredette is averaging 23.7 points, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game to lead the Cougars.  Head coach Dave Rose is 137-40 in his six seasons in Provo and is the program’s all-time leader with a .774 winning percentage.  BYU is 3-4 ATS on the season and currently a neutral court favorite on the college basketball lines page.

The Cougars will be meeting the Bruins for the 23rd time this afternoon and the series is tied at 11-11.  BYU dropped the last meeting 82-69 in Los Angeles and hold a 2-1 advantage in neutral site games in the series.  The team is currently a perfect 10-0 on the season and aiming to match the 17-0 start that the 1987-88 squad posted.  So far during the 2010-11 campaign, BYU has been virtually untested by posting a plus-21.8 margin of victory.  Offensively, the team is shooting a blistering 51.7 percent from the floor over the past five games.

UCLA comes in with a 5-4 overall record and unranked in both polls knowing it has quite a challenge in front of them against Saturday’s opponent.  The Bruins should play with plenty of confidence due to playing Kansas to the wire this season and demonstrate plenty of emotion in playing this event without legendary coach John Wooden’s presence for the first time.  “This will be a tough, really physical game,” said BYU’s Rose.  “The biggest key is we’ve got to be tough.”  This is UCLA’s 14th appearance in the Classic and the program has posted a 9-4 record, including a 1-4 mark when unranked.  The team is 3-10 ATS on a neutral floor over the past three years.

The Bruins are led by top scorers and rebounders Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson, who combined to average 29.1 points and 16.7 rebounds.  Both played a key role in the team bouncing back from a four-game losing streak in picking up victories over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Davis.  Howland has consistently used an eight-man rotation this season, but needs to find the right combination in the back court, as the team ranks last in the Pac-10 in turnover margin.

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Cougars are 4-0 ATS versus the Pac-10, while the Bruins are 3-15 ATS following a SU win.

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