Game to be played at FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
UCLA knows what it takes to defeat Kentucky, and the third-seeded Bruins try to take down the No. 2 seed Wildcats for the second time this season when they meet in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on Friday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. UCLA defeated Kentucky on Dec. 3 in 2015 and again in 2016, each time when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.
The Bruins earned their latest victory against Kentucky much the way they’ve beaten every team on their schedule this season, getting balanced scoring on high-percentage shots from their starting five. UCLA’s five starters scored from 14 to 19 points and Aaron Holiday contributed 13 off the bench in the 97-92 win in December. The Wildcats lean on 6-3 freshmen guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, who each had big games in the earlier meeting against the Bruins. Monk, who averages 20 points, scored 24 in December, and Fox, who averages 16.1, scored 20. The key matchup could be between 6-10 freshman forwards Bam Adebayo of Kentucky and T.J. Leaf of UCLA, who logged double-doubles in their earlier matchup.
TV: 9:39 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: UCLA hit the board as 1-point favorites but that number quickly jumped the fence and, as of Thursday afternoon, Kentucky was sitting at -1. The total meanwhile, has slowly and continually been fading since opening at 169. the current number is 165.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: Check back later for Covers Experts analysis.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “The line has seemingly settled at pick ‘em, after UCLA opened as a 1-point favorite. A bit of sharp money came in on Kentucky +1. However, the betting action has been dead even on the game for the last day and a half.” – Lines Manager at GTBets.
UCLA – G Armani Dodson (Out Indefinitely, shoulder), G Prince Ali (Out For Season, knee), F Alex Olesinski (Out For Season, foot)
Kentucky – F Sacha Killeya-Jones (Out Indefinitely, illness)
ABOUT UCLA (31-4 SU, 17-18 ATS, 16-17-2 O/U): Bruins freshman point guard Lonzo Ball had one of his most impressive performances of the season in the second round and should be motivated to play well against the freshman backcourt of Kentucky. Ball had 18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and one turnover in the 79-67 victory Sunday against Cincinnati, shooting 7-for-10 from the floor and 4-for-7 from 3-point range. He had 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the first meeting with the Wildcats, so they have a blueprint of the damage he can inflict.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (31-5 SU, 18-17-1 ATS, 17-19 O/U): Isaiah Briscoe is the third starting guard for the Wildcats and also has good size at 6-3, and is the best rebounder in the backcourt, posting four double-doubles this season and ranking second on the team at 5.4 rebounds. The Bruins need to decide who to put on Briscoe, and that could be Ball, who has the length at 6-6 to keep him off the glass. That would require UCLA senior guard Bryce Alford to guard Fox or Monk, and he doesn’t have the foot speed to stay in front of either one.
* Bruins are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games.
* Wildcats are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 6-1 in Bruins last 7 games following a straight up win.
* Under is 12-2 in Wildcats last 14 games following a straight up win.
* Bruins are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 58 percent of Covers users are siding with UCLA and Under is picking up 52 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.