UCLA will be back in action Saturday against visiting Michigan, its first appearance since knocking off then-No. 1 Kentucky to move from No. 9 in the coaches’ poll to No. 2, its highest ranking in nine years. The Bruins did to Kentucky what they’ve done to most other teams this season and that’s shoot the ball with extraordinary accuracy, a trend that’s made them the best shooting team in the nation at 55.1 percent.
UCLA also leads the country with an average of 24 assists per game, and the Bruins can thank freshman point guard Lonzo Ball for getting them there, as he leads all of Division I at 9.3 helpers a game. Michigan was an annual opponent of UCLA’s from 2002 through 2008, but the teams haven’t met since the third-place game at the 2011 Maui Invitational. The Wolverines prepped for this matchup by beating visiting Texas by three points on Tuesday, and this will be their last road trip before beginning Big Ten play on Jan. 1, but losses to South Carolina and Virginia Tech this season have shown cracks in their foundation, particularly when it comes to closing out opponents. Michigan led Virginia Tech by 10 points with 7:23 remaining in the game on Nov. 30 before freezing up and losing 73-70, a stretch that also saw leading scorer Zak Irvin go scoreless after putting up 23 points through that stretch of the game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU
LINE HISTORY: The Bruins opened as 9.5-point home favorites and that spread was held. The total opened at 163 and has yet to move. Check out the complete line history here.
Michigan – No injuries to report
UCLA – F Alex Olesinski (out indefinitely, foot), G Prince Ali (out indefinitely, knee), G Armani Dodson (out indefinitely, shoulder)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Michigan (-8) – UCLA (-15.7) + home court (-3) = UCLA – 10.7
ABOUT MICHIGAN (7-2 SU, 2-4 ATS, 2-4 O/U): Irvin leads Michigan in scoring at 13.6 points a game, an average that’s below the four leading scorers for UCLA, and the other two Wolverines who are averaging double figures are Derrick Walton Jr. (12.1) and Moritz Wagner (10.4). Walton and Wagner can do some damage from long distance, as they’re a combined 32-for-75 from 3-point range, so UCLA’s perimeter defense needs to be on their toes. D.J. Wilson has been Michigan’s most active player inside and comes into this game averaging 7.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, but the 6-10 forward can also step back and hit a 3-pointer when needed.
ABOUT UCLA (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS, 6-3 O/U): If they Bruins hope to establish their longest winning streak since the 2012-13 season, they’ll just need to keep playing like they’ve been, starting with their impressive scoring balance among their starting five. In the win against Kentucky, the starters each scored from 14 to 19 points, with Aaron Holiday adding another 13 off the bench. Ball, Holiday, Isaac Hamilton, T.J. Leaf, Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh each average from 11.1 to 18.1 points and only Alford is shooting below 51 percent from the floor (44.9).
* Wolverines are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
* Bruins are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Bruins are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
* Under is 8-2 in Wolverines last 10 overall.
* Under is 7-0 in Wolverines last 7 road games.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The home favorite Bruins are picking up 56 percent of the early action from Covers users. The under is getting 72 percent of the totals action. View full consensus data here.