I’m not the biggest fan of major point spreads. Everything has to go right for a favorite to cover these kinds of spreads. Far too often, I’ve seen handicappers or bettors lose bets by one or two points because their team didn’t cover.
Long Beach State 49ers vs. UCLA Bruins
Monday, November 15, 2021 – 11:00 PM EST at Pauley Pavillion
UCLA is going to welcome Long Beach State to town as a massive favorite. Of course, the public loves UCLA and I’m seeing nearly 75 percent are on UCLA in the morning at -29. That's insanity. UCLA can absolutely cover this. Let’s just break down how realistic a cover is here.
UCLA is coming into this game with two wins on their resume against Cal State Bakersfield and Villanova. The game against Villanova was a Top-10 match-up and went to overtime before UCLA pulled away. With so many returning players, UCLA looks ridiculous on paper this year. Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, Jules Bernard, and Tyger Campbell are all back along with transfer Myles Johnson and freshman Peyton Watson.
It’s a loaded group that has four players in double figures and a group that is also waiting on Cody Riley to recover from an injury sustained earlier this year. UCLA has an adjusted efficiency of 113.6 on offense, which is sixth in the nation. Defensively, they’re 14th in the nation holding opponents to 89.2 adjusted efficiency. On defense, teams have struggled to move quickly.
UCLA has forced some long possessions this year through just two games this year. However, the Bruins have struggled a bit defending the three, allowing teams to shoot 43.9 percent. I’m sure that number will drop a bit as the season progresses. If you think UCLA has been bad defending the three, Long Beach State has been worse, allowing teams to hit 48.4 percent from downtown.
The 49ers won’t beat you around the perimeter but they do have some big bodies that can score inside the paint. Through just one game this season, Long Beach State scored 95 points in a win against Idaho, on the road, in overtime. They took some really solid shots in that game, and despite going up to Idaho, that’s still significant. Long Beach State moved extremely fast in that game against Idaho and pushed the pace like no tomorrow. However, adjustments will have to be made. If Long Beach State is looking to stick around in this game, they’ll have to slow the tempo down and make UCLA’s defense work a little bit.
We don’t have much on Long Beach State and what they’re going to be capable of this season. However, the defense was quality inside and the offense scored inside through their game against Idaho. Obviously, against guys like Myles Johnson, it gets a bit harder to score inside.
Meanwhile, UCLA has been terrific shooting the three and will likely continue to perform moving forward. They’ll score plenty of points and win by double digits, but 29 points is just too much. Instead, I’ll ride the under for my college basketball pick, believing that Long Beach State slows things down against UCLA. When you limit possessions, the game stays closer.
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