The Colorado Buffaloes are a poor-shooting crew, but they have managed to survive on defense. This is a tough-as-nails crew, but do they stack up with the UCLA Bruins in terms of talent? And will that make a difference in the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday?
Those are questions BetOnline patrons need to ask themselves as they take a look at this matchup, the third between these teams.
UCLA got to the Sweet Sixteen last season and went to the Final Four two years ago. They still have a few players left over from that Final Four squad, and that includes Jaime Jaquez, who is one of the premier players in the nation, and floor leader Tyger Campbell. Those are the two senior starters, and these guys certainly play like an experienced crew; they have been an exceptional team in taking care of the ball and taking it away from the opponent.
And in terms of the numbers, they are an elite defensive team, ranking second in the country in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. There is not a lot of bias according to which way their opponents like to shoot from; the Bruins are 38th in the country defending triples and 52nd defending two-pointers (this is out of 363 teams, mind you).
They’d do themselves a favor in the NCAA Tournament if they could get some more balance in the offense, however. The three-pointer, although not completely nonexistent, is not a primary staple of the attack, as it constitutes only 28.7% of their total shot attempts. And only 15.6% of their points come at the free throw line. That is very, very low.
But they are favored by quite a few points in the Pac-12 basketball betting odds released by BetOnline:
UCLA Bruins -9.5
Colorado Buffaloes +9.5
Over 132.5 Points -110
Under 132.5 Points -110
Colorado sits at 16-15 right now, so realistically, their only real hope of reaching post-season play is to beat UCLA and advance as far as they can. They have experienced highs and lows, losing to lesser lights such as Grambling and UMass but pulling upsets over Tennessee and Texas A&M. They have not been blown out a lot. but that hinges upon them playing good defense. They are in the top twenty in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and have done a yeoman’s job of keeping their opponents off the offensive boards. They are, in fact, #1 in the conference in defensive rebounding.
But as we mention again, this is a crew that can’t shoot straight. They are outside the nation’s top 300 in three-point accuracy, and that is probably why they don’t attempt many from downtown.
And that does not put them in good stead against UCLA, which is second nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and holds opponents to 47% from two-point range (very good).
On January 14, UCLA stymied the Buffs, holding them to just 28.6% from the field. Jaquez had an amazing outing, with 23 points, 13 rebounds (seven on the offensive end), five blocks, and four steals.
Eleven days ago, Colorado played UCLA to the hilt before losing 60-56. Then CU turned around and beat Utah 69-60, holding the Utes to 33% shooting.
Yes, they’ll have to be extra difficult on defense. But they are obviously going to have a hard time generating points. For that reason, we’d go UNDER here. It remains to see how the basketball betting sites will have odds that may vary depending on how well Colorado performs during the game.
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