Arizona State vs. UCLA Free NCAA Basketball Picks for February 21

Jaylen Clark #0 of the UCLA Bruins dunks over Lawson Lovering #34 of the Colorado Buffaloes. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP

Online sports betting sites have released their NCAAB odds for tonight’s game between Arizona State and UCLA.

In their last meeting, which took place at Arizona State, the Sun Devils won in a triple-overtime thriller. In addition to getting revenge, the Bruins would like to extend their two-game win streak.

Arizona State, however, has won three games in a row. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. UCLA Bruins 

Monday, February 21, 2022 – 09:00 PM EST at Pauley Pavilion 


The Odds

The top sportsbooks have UCLA favored by 14 points. Arizona State has lost by more than 14 points multiple times in Pac-12 play.

The Sun Devils lost by 24 at California, by 22 at USC, and by 23 at Washington. Losing by 14 is therefore very possible for the Sun Devils to do especially on the road.

Home/Away

While Arizona State defeated UCLA in these teams’ first meeting, that Sun Devil victory took place at home. The Sun Devils play a lot better in big games at home.

For example, while they were decimated by USC on the road, they stayed within five of USC in the rendition at home.

Meanwhile, the Bruins have been something of a juggernaut at home where they’ve most recently beaten Washington by 26, Washington State by 20, Stanford by 23, California by 24, and Arizona by 16. In other words, they’re on a 5-0 ATS run at home.

Meanwhile, they’ve lost road games and those losses — to USC, by 10 to the same Wildcat team that they stomped at home, and to Arizona State — took place outside of Los Angeles.

As epitomized by the two games against Arizona, location clearly matters to UCLA in a strong way as it matters to the Sun Devils. These home/away trends suggest a strong Bruin home victory tonight.

Arizona State’s Vulnerable Defense

Statistically, the Sun Devil defense looks strong. But video footage shows repeated problems with the Arizona State defense that UCLA is built to exploit.

For example, with just over 12 minutes to go in the game at Arizona, the Wildcats ran a simple pick-and-roll at the top of the key.

As the Wildcat roll man headed to the basket, Arizona State’s center stayed with him. Meanwhile, the Sun Devil center had been screened and therefore fell behind the ball-handler. Thus, the space was created for that Arizona ball-handler to pull up for an open jumper.

In that game and elsewhere, Sun Devil defenders show an overt concern for stopping the pass. They frequently stay with their defender instead of trying to stop the ball-handler.

This concern with giving up an assisted basket allows opposing off-ball players to pull Sun Devil defenders away from the path of the opposing ball-handler who can then score undeterred inside the basket.

UCLA Ball Movement

UCLA has the Pac-12’s second-most efficient offense largely because of its great off-ball movement. The Bruin offense is great at locating open spaces in which to operate and score.

For example, led by guys like Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez, it loves those two-point jumpers that Arizona could accomplish against the Sun Devils’ ball-screen defense. Statistically speaking, few teams make more of those than the Bruins do.

Numbers would suggest that the Bruin offense is a slow, ho-hum one that does little in transition and likes to move at a boring place. But actually watching the Bruins yields a different impression, one in which a hard-hitting offense ruthlessly creates and takes advantage of opportunities.

This fluid ball movement was also apparent in the team’s win over Washington State. When the Cougars switched to an extended 2-3 zone, the Bruins were able to whip around passes faster than the Cougar defense could rotate.

Finally finding a driving opportunity, the Bruin ball-handler forced the defense to collapse and located a teammate for a two-point jumper. This example took place with just under 15 minutes left in the first half.

Arizona State’s Awful Offense

If you don’t like the Sun Devil defense, then it’s really hard to like the team at all. The Sun Devil offense is normally not the one that, with uncanny shot-making and 11 made threes, helped upset the Bruins.

Instead, Arizona State owns the conference’s least efficient offense. It will often be mired, and dribble around before throwing the ball away to an opposing player.

In the game against Arizona, for example, there were so many instances of Sun Devil players staying stationary behind the arc.

Thereby, they force the ball-handler to do too much by himself and they encourage an excessive number of three-point shot attempts.

Injuries

UCLA may miss Johnny Juzang to a sore hip, although the Bruins still blew out Washington without him as they did without the injured Cody Riley whom Myles Johnson easily replaced.

One guy who has stepped up for UCLA is Jaylen Clark, who has scored 18 and 25 points in his last two games, respectively.

The Pick

With guys like Clark healthy, UCLA makes a great investment for your best bets this evening so take them on the spread.

NCAAB Pick: UCLA -13.5 (-106) at FanDuel