Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Pac-12 Championship - #8 Arizona vs. #2 UCLA (3/11/2023) - Taking Vegas

Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Pac-12 Championship – #8 Arizona vs. #2 UCLA (3/11/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
March 11, 2023
Photo by: Rick Scuteri - Associated Press

Pac 12 Championship Game: #8 Arizona Wildcats vs #2 UCLA Bruins (3/11 @ 10:30 PM EST)

Spread: UCLA -1.0
Money Line: Arizona -104 / UCLA -116
Total: 147.5

Overview and Betting Info

The #8 Arizona Wildcats (27-6) will take on the #2 UCLA Bruins (29-4) in the Pac 12 Championship Final on Saturday night. These teams split their regular season series with the home team winning both. UCLA dominated the Pac 12 and earned the top seed, while Arizona was four games back in second.

Arizona is 16-16-1 against the spread and have covered three of their last five games. They’ve gone over the total 18 times, including in seven of their last ten games.

UCLA is 20-12-1 versus the spread and have covered six of their last seven games. They’ve gone over the total 16 times in three of their last five games.

Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats couldn’t catch the Bruins atop the Pac-12 this season, thanks partly to dropping three of their final six games. One was against UCLA, but the other was against ASU and Stanford. They enter as a popular pick to win the NCAA tournament thanks to going 4-1 against ranked teams, with three wins on a neutral court (San Diego State, Creighton, Indiana). Their other two were against the Bruins and Tennessee. That means this team has been battle-tested, despite playing in a weak Pac-12 conference.

The Wildcat’s offense has been fantastic this season. They are fourth in the country in scoring (83.1 PPG), second in assists (19.9 APG), ninth in field goal percentage (49.3%), and twentieth in three-point percentage (37.8%). They have shown no signs of slowing down, averaging 84.2 points over their last five games. That includes two 78+ point performances against a good ASU defensive team. Despite splitting their series with the Bruins, they struggled to score against UCLA this season and were held under 74 points in both.

Arizona has been bad on defense this season, ranking dead last in the Pac-12 in opponent scoring (71.9 PPG), fifth in field goal percentage (41.0%), and sixth in three-point percentage (33.0%). They haven’t been helped by their play on offense, where they are eleventh in the conference in turnovers (13.4 TO/G). While they held a bad ASU offense to 59 points yesterday, they have up 84 to an even worse Stanford team.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA dominated the Pac-12 this season and won with a comfortable four-game lead over Arizona. They have now won 12 straight games thanks to easily beating Colorado in the quarterfinal and Oregon in the semifinal. As impressive as their 29-4 record is, they went 3-3 against ranked opponents this season. That includes two wins against Kentucky and Maryland, both of whom dropped from the rankings.

The Bruins are one of the most well-balanced teams in the country, thanks in part to an offense that is second in the Pac-12 in scoring (74.4 PPG) and second in field goal percentage (46.1%), and fourth in three-point percentage (35.2%) and assists (14.4 APG). UCLA also takes care of the ball well, as they average the fewest in the conference (10.3 TO/G). They struggled to score on the road against Arizona but put up 82 in their matchup earlier this month.

As well as UCLA has played on offense, their defense is among the best in the country. They rank sixth in the country in opponent scoring (60.1 PPG) and are top four in the conference in field goal (40.8%) and three-point percentage (33.6%). They are aggressive, leading the Pac 12 in steals (8.5), and had nine in each game against Arizona. They have shown no signs of slowing as the season wound down and held an excellent Oregon offense to just 59 points in the semifinals.

Free Pick: UCLA -1.0

We have a classic matchup between one of the country’s top offenses versus one of the top defenses. We give UCLA the advantage here due to their own offensive success. Unlike Arizona, they are a well-balanced team in the top four in the conference in most major categories. The Bruins handled the Wildcats at home and only dropped their road game thanks to making just 31.3% of their shots. That wasn’t a result of the Arizona defense as much as it was just an off night for the Bruins shooters.

On a neutral court, we believe UCLA’s offense will bounce back, and their defense will again contain Arizona. On the other side, Arizona’s defense has not shown much life this season and will struggle to contain a good Bruins team after playing back-to-back games.

We’re happy to give up the point to roll with UCLA on Saturday night.