The nightcap of the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday at Madison Square Garden is the UCLA vs Kentucky betting matchup featuring a couple of top 20 teams. The #16 Bruins (9-2) have already had a successful trip to the East Coast, absolutely destroying #20 Maryland 87-60 on Wednesday to show how disrespectful the +2 point underdog line was.
#13 Kentucky (7-2) is playing for the first time in a week as they try to extend their current win streak to five games. The most impressive win over that span was a 73-69 win over Michigan in London, and with Saturday afternoon’s contest being in New York City the Wildcats have still yet to play a true road game this season. UCLA is a -1.5 favorite here.
UCLA Seems Dialed In
The Bruins haven’t lost a game all season outside of a three day stretch in Las Vegas when they fell 79-70 to then #17 Illinois followed by an 80-75 defeat to then #5 Baylor as part of the Continental Tire Main Event.
Since the loss to Baylor UCLA has rattled off six straight wins including starting the PAC 12 season 2-0 by beating Stanford 80-66 and Oregon 65-56. By far the most impressive win for Mick Cronin’s club was Wednesday in Maryland in what was just the second true road game of the season for UCLA. The Bruins needed only 14 points from Jaime Jaquez Jr. to beat the Terrapins, even after he had gone for 18+ in three of the previous four.
What made Wednesday’s in in College Park so impressive was the fact that UCLA continued to shoot the ball well (35-63, 58%) even in a hostile environment while also putting the clamps on the Terrapins defensively (one starter in double figures).
Kentucky Well Rested
UCLA is in a nice rhythm by already having a couple of conference games under their belt while also getting a huge win Wednesday against a top 20 Maryland squad. The Wildcats don’t have that luxury though, not playing since last Saturday’s 69-69 win over Yale. That game itself came after a six day break due to traveling to the UK to play Michigan.
The Wildcats have only played two games so far in the month of December, and the meeting with the Wolverines was the only time in four games since November 20th when UK wasn’t at least a -18 point favorite. This is a team somewhat battle tested in losses to Michigan State (86-77) and Gonzaga (88-72) but this is a club that hasn’t played a lot of meaningful games recently.
This will be a nice chance for reigning Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe to continue his domination after posting 26 points and 12 rebounds against Yale. Tshiebwe had 20/15 against Gonzaga as well but was held to 13 points against Michigan.
Free UCLA vs Kentucky Betting Pick
The Wildcats have the dominating big man in Tschiebwe, but UCLA has what looks like the better team ranking 4th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th defensively. This is all while playing a competitive strength of schedule and riding a six game win streak.
Free Pick: UCLA -1.5