- The Utah Utes (4-1) make their way to Los Angeles, California, to take on the UCLA Bruins (5-2) at 7:00 PM ET on New Year’s Eve
- UCLA is coming off only its second loss of the season while Utah has won its last two games
- See the odds, spread, analysis, and best bet, below
Pac-12 Conference play was supposed to start last week for both Utah and UCLA but both teams had games postponed due to Covid-19 concerns. The last time Utah hit the hardwood they destroyed winless Idaho 79-41. UCLA was not as lucky as they were beaten 77-70 by Ohio State in a game that was only scheduled because Kentucky couldn’t play.
Utah vs UCLA Odds
|Utah Utes||+6.5 (-102)||+260||Over 137 (-110)|
|UCLA Bruins||-6.5 (-118)||-320||Under 137 (-110)|
Odds as of December 30th at FanDuel.
Utah Is Ready To Get Back To Action
When this game tips off the Utah Utes will have had 12 days between games after their last one against Arizona State was cancelled due to Covid-19 complications. It was the second time this season that a game was cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns after their season opener against New Orleans was wiped out. Still through it all they sit at 4-1 after dominating Idaho last time out.
?: Runnin’ Utes Cruise Past Vandals Friday Night.#GoUtes?? https://t.co/yv9U4oyeAW
— Utah Basketball? (w/ ?) (@UtahMBB) December 20, 2020
Utah jumped out to a 40-16 lead at the half en route to a commanding 79-41 victory. Eleven different players scored for the Utes in the stomping but it was Timmy Allen who led the way with 22 points. Allen leads the team in scoring on the season with 15.4 points per game. It was the fourth time in five tries that the Utes put up at least 70 points in a game.
UCLA Has Its Own Covid-19 Issues
Utah isn’t the only ones in this game that have had Covid-19 issues this season. UCLA’s last game against Oregon in Eugene was postponed after one of the referees tested positive for the virus. The Bruins made a few headlines afterwards by asking for the Pac-12 to refund their travel expenses due to the issue. It’s unlikely their request will be granted, but their frustration over the uncertainty the virus has caused is apparent.
A Bruins game was postponed because one referee tested positive for COVID-19.
So, they’re asking for their travel expenses to be reimbursed. https://t.co/SzSkyxYVUB
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) December 30, 2020
On the court UCLA’s season has been somewhat of a success thus far. According to KenPom, their slow, plodding offense ranks 12th in the country in offensive efficiency. Last time out, they came up a little short against number 20, Ohio State, losing 77-70. That game was scheduled on-the-fly due to, you guessed it, Covid-19 issues. This New Year’s Eve game being at home at the Pauley Pavilion should come as a relief to this team.
Best Betting Angle
The last time Utah played a game away from the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, they were blown out 82-64 by a barely decent BYU team. They couldn’t stop the Cougars from making shots as BYU sunk 55% of their shots from the field. They are the best team in terms of effective field goal percentage (53.7%) the Utes have seen but UCLA is not far behind them at 52% in the metric. That could be problematic for the Utes as they give up a ton of wide open shots but have been lucky enough to play teams that miss the opportunities.
For all of the praise UCLA deserves for their offense, their defense leaves a lot to be desired. In both losses this season, they gave up at least 73 points. One of those games was against Ohio State who boasts the eighth most efficient offense in the country but the other was to San Diego State on opening night. San Diego State is not much better than Utah in terms of offensive efficiency but Utah is much better at not turning the ball over ranking 5th best in the nation in turnover percentage. This game won’t be a track meet but neither team will be able to stop the other from scoring enough to keep this under the total.
Pick: Over 137 (-110)