UCLA vs. Utah Picks & Prediction February 23: Will Cronin’s Cries be Heard by NCAA?

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Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins yells at officials during game against the USC Trojans on January 26, 2023. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images/AFP

NCAAB Pick: UCLA -7 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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UCLA -7 (-108)
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While Mick Cronin and the Bruins are pouting about being slighted by the NCAA Selection Committee, we’re busy looking for the winning NCAA basketball pick for UCLA’s contest at Utah on Thursday. 

Remember, fans from the Golden State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated California betting sites.

UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes 

Thursday, February 23, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Jon M. Huntsman Center 

According to his bio on the UCLA website, Michael Walter ‘Mick’ Cronin has a degree in history from the University of Cincinnati, which would indicate Peggy & Harold’s son was a pretty smart boy. 

Comments – calling the NCAA Selection Committee “comical” – made by the Bruins’ head coach earlier this week indicate he’s not so bright, and leave many wondering just where Cronin’s and his team’s focus is heading into a Thursday matchup with the Utah Utes

Cronin’s beef with the committee was for UCLA being seeded eighth overall in the early reveal of the top 16 for next month’s NCAA Tournament, and he blamed it on the Bruins being picked on for their decision to leave the PAC-12 and move to the Big Ten. 

Of course, there are millions of us who aren’t smart enough to have a history degree from Cincinnati but are smart enough to understand the early reveal is just a marketing gimmick.

Besides, why hasn’t Cronin cried about being a 2-seed all this time in Joe Lunardi’s brackets? 

Rivalry History & Betting Trends 

The Bruins’ first meeting with the Utes this season also turned out a bit comical, to steal a word from copy Cronin’s vocabulary, and UCLA will be looking for its seventh consecutive win in the rivalry come Thursday’s tip. 

Despite not scoring for the first 4½ minutes, the Bruins skated to a 68-49 win in Westwood to easily cover the 13-point spread at BMR's top sportsbooks. UCLA dominated the Utes on the glass in what was a matchup between the top two PAC 12 teams at the time. 

Last season’s lone meeting took place in Salt Lake City where Johnny Juzang scored 28 to lead the Bruins to a 63-58 decision that wasn’t enough to cover the 9 points UCLA backers were giving up. 

  • By winning the last 6 meetings, the Bruins have taken a 16-10 lead in the series with Utah. 
  • UCLA has covered 4 of the last 6 meetings
  • Totals have run 2-4 o/u during the Bruins’ 6-game win streak in the rivalry. 

Will Snub Fuel Bruins at Utah? 

The claim that the Bruins are being punished for moving to the Big Ten is obviously bogus, and if Cronin’s open to considering why his team only rates a No 2 seed right now, he might want to look at UCLA’s 4-4 Quad 1 record compared to:

  • Alabama (7-4)
  • Houston (4-1)
  • Purdue (13-1)
  • Kansas (13-1)

More coach-speak came out of Cronin’s pie hole after Saturday’s 78-43 rout of California. The Bruins went wire-to-wire with the win, which was expected with a 25-point spread on the NCAAB odds

The contest was played after the top 16 reveal had been released, and Cronin noted, “The goal was to stay focused, that we were professional and had the right attitude. The results speak for themselves when you do that.” 

Utes Begin Final Homestand of Season 

That 5-0 start to the PAC-12 schedule must seem like a long, long time ago for Craig Smith and the Utes. The loss at Pauley Pavilion came in the middle of a 3-game skid that started their slide, and while the team remains tied for fourth, they’re struggling with four losses in the last six. 

Utah is knotted with that No. 4 slot – which earns a 1st-round bye at the PAC-12 Tournament – with Arizona State, and the Sun Devils have control of the tiebreaker after beating the Utes in Tempe last Saturday. 

Bookmaker closed Utah as a 3½-point underdog, and the Utes held a 57-55 lead with 3:09 left before crumbling against an ASU team that closed the game on a 12-2 run. Utah had a huge rebounding edge in the game but negated that with 17 turnovers to the Sun Devils’ 5

UCLA Wins Defensive Battle 

Lucky 7’s run clear across BMR’s live odds board on the morning lines, with UCLA the unanimous favorite for the contest, and the books are also in agreement with 131½ for the scoreboard target. 

Both sides play solid defense, and in their first matchup staying about 20 points below the total proved that.

With Cronin suffering from Napoleon Complex and looking to get his team some style points to throw it back in the committee’s collective face, lay the points. 

Score Prediction: UCLA 68 – Utah 60 

NCAAB Pick: UCLA -7 (-108) at Heritage Sports

NCAAB Pick: Under 131.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Under 131.5 (-108)
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