NCAA Basketball Picks: UCLA Bruins vs Villanova Wildcats

UCLA Bruins vs Villanova Wildcats
Wednesday, 11/24/2010, 9:00 PM EST, ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Villanova -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Villanova -5.5

Villanova has outscored its first four opponents by 28.5 points per game and will receive its first test against the UCLA Bruins at Madison Square Garden

UCLA is coming off a 14-18 season after making five straight trips to the NCAA tournament and has started the year off with three consecutive victories.  The Bruins have six freshmen and no seniors on a roster that many experts view as a start for something bigger in years to come.  The team has dominated the paint in the early going, outscoring opponents by a 114-68 margin, while also scoring 24 more points in transition in its first three outings.  UCLA certainly has talent, toting four McDonald’s All-Americans on its 2010-11 roster.  It usually always starts with defense under head coach Ben Howland, holding opponents to 60 points or less in 83 games over the past seven-plus seasons.  Thus far, the Bruins are allowing just 54.3 points per game.  The squad is 9-10 ATS as an underdog the past three years and the college basketball lines page has them getting points.

The Bruins were selected to finish third among the Pac-10 schools in the media poll this season, with Washington earning the top spot by receiving 33 of 35 first-place votes.  UCLA is 19-10 against ranked teams in the last four seasons, but went 0-2 versus such foes during the 2009-10 campaign.  Howland must get a major contribution from Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt in trying to pull off the upset at Madison Square Garden tonight.  “I’m expecting a double-double from Reeves and Honeycutt every game,” he commented.  “Those guys are capable of averaging double-doubles for the year.”

Villanova has overwhelmed its first four opponents by outscoring them by an average of 28.5 points and will receive a litmus test tonight.  The Wildcats lost All-American guard Scottie Reynolds from a team that entered last season’s NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed, but the team has notched 76 assists while committing just 39 turnovers in the early going.  This will be the first meeting between the two schools since the second round of the 2009 NCAA tournament when the Wildcats clobbered the Bruins by 20 points.  The team is 19-9 ATS in non-conference games.

The Wildcats are 12-12 at the Garden since head coach Jay Wright assumed the role in 2001.  Villanova is likely to improve on that mark with a 37-7 record in the month of November, winning 16 consecutive games in the month since a loss to NC State in 2007.  Expect the three senior captains of this squad to play a major role in tonight’s outcome, as each of them hail from the New York City area.  Wright knows that the Bruins still present some problems for his team to deal with.  “They’ve got length and athleticism,” he said.  “It should be a great game.”

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Bruins are 2-7 ATS in neutral site games, while the Wildcats are 1-4-1 ATS as a favorite.

Don’t miss out on an incredible week of action and let the college basketball handicappers at Maddux Sports go to work for you this holiday weekend!

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