Washington State vs. UCLA Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinal Preview and Best Bet

Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Another jam-packed NCAA basketball betting card awaits on Thursday, and part of the action takes place at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas where the UCLA Bruins battle the Washington State Cougars. 

Washington State Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins 

Thursday, March 10, 2022 – 09:00 PM EST at T-Mobile Arena 

 
Darlings of the last year’s March Madness when UCLA made it to the Final Four as an 11th-seeded First Four team, Mick Cronin and the Bruins are looking to go at least that deep this time around as they prepare for their Pac-12 Tournament opener against Washington State. UCLA enters this event as the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 while the Cougars are seeded seventh. 

Outside of the fact, both teams play in the same conference, the only similarity between Washington State and UCLA is they each split their two neutral-site games this season straight-up while failing to cover the betting odds in either one. The Cougars were a pretty poor bet all season while the Bruins just barely showed a profit for their backers.  

‘Over’ Cashes Last Five Meetings 

You’ll need a ticket inside T-Mobile Arena or the Pac-12 Network to catch the game, and DraftKings has UCLA giving up 7 points with signs that could increase by half before tip. With their last five meetings all going past the totals, Thursday’s matchup is carrying a 132½-point scoreboard target at most shops. 

Washington State and UCLA only got together one time during the regular season, and that meeting took place exactly three weeks ago in Los Angeles where the Bruins put a 76-56 whipping on the Cougars. UCLA shot to a 9-0 lead in this year’s meeting and controlled the game the rest of the way to cover as 8½-point chalk. 

Beating the Cougars is nothing new for the Bruins who have dominated the rivalry to the tune of a 111-19 record. That domination stalled a bit in previous seasons when Washington State managed to win two of the four matchups prior to this year’s lone collision, with the two sides splitting covers in the last 10 clashes while this year’s final marked the fifth consecutive ‘over’ despite UCLA not scoring in the final 3:42. 

You have to go back to 2009 to find the last time UCLA and Washington State matched up in the Pac-12 Tournament, a 64-53 UCLA win as 8½-point chalk. The Cougars are 2-4 in their last six conference tourney games while going 3-3 ATS in those contests, and the Bruins are 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS in the event since 2017. 

Wazzu in 1-5 ATS Funk 

A wire-to-wire win over California on Wednesday gave Kyle Smith his second tournament win in just his third season at the helm in Pullman. Smith’s predecessor, Ernie Kent, failed to garner even one Pac-12 Tournament victory in his five seasons running the Cougars’ program. Despite leading the entire way, the Cougars failed to cover an 8-point line at online betting sites in the 66-59 final. 

It was Washington State’s fourth consecutive win, and fifth in the last half-dozen trips to the floor with all six of those games as the favorite. The Cougars were 2-3 ATS as the underdogs this season, one of the spread losses coming in the lone matchup with UCLA. 

Bruins Hit 50+% from Field in Last Three Games 

There’s no questioning the job Mick Cronin has done since he first arrived in Westwood three years ago, and he brings the Bruins into this contest on the right side of the NCAAB scores in six of their last seven games to close the regular season. Still, he’ll face the wrath of the UCLA faithful if the team makes a quick exit after just one game in this tourney, as the Bruins did last season. 

Closing the campaign strong was important for the Bruins who suffered a rough patch prior to their current 6-1 run. The squad dropped three of four to begin February, with all four of the contests coming on the road and two of the losses to ranked Arizona and USC squads. Other than that, UCLA’s only issue was getting swept by Oregon in their season series. 

It’s difficult to imagine UCLA being 1-and-done for a second consecutive year in the Pac-12 Tournament, making it tempting to lay the points on Cronin’s crew. However, the ‘over’ trend in this rivalry is the best college basketball pick for Thursday’s 131st meeting between the Bruins and Cougars. 

NCAAB Pick: Over 132 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook