The #4 Villanova Wildcats (1-0) face off against the #2 UCLA Bruins (1-0) in a major non-conference showdown between two of the top teams in NCAA hoops. Both teams were victorious in their season-opening warm-up contests on Tuesday.
Friday’s contest tips off at 11:30 p.m. EST inside Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. UCLA is a 4.5-point favorite as the hosts, and the over-under total is at 139 points.
What to Know – Villanova Wildcats
Villanova heads on the road for the first in this young season and faces a tough test against a team many consider to be the best in the NCAA. The Wildcats opened up the season with a 40-point blowout victory over Mount St. Mary’s, looking dominant on both sides of the floor. Villanova was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Big East, an honor they’ve gotten in seven out of the last eight years.
Junior guard Justin Moore stepped up to lead the Wildcats in scoring in Tuesday’s opener. Moore poured in 27 points, highlighted by 6-of-8 shooting from the 3-pt line. Senior forwards Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels each chipped in 17 points apiece in the victory.
Villanova shot 55.4% (31-of-56) from the floor and 53.3% (16-of-30) from beyond the arc. The Wildcats forced 18 turnovers and held the Mountaineers to just 25% (3-of-12) from three.
The Wildcats are 1-4 against the spread on the road over their last five contests but 7-0 straight up in their last seven matchups against Pac-12 opponents.
What to Know – UCLA Bruins
UCLA picked right up where they left off last season with a superb shooting display in their opening route of CSU-Bakersfield. The Bruins throttled the Roadrunners, 95-58, hitting three-straight 3-pointers to open the game. UCLA was a near-unanimous choice as the Pac-12’s preseason favorite.
The Bruins did get a piece of bad news in the opener with starting forward Cody Riley going down early in the game with an MCL sprain. He won’t suit up Friday night, and his return to action is undetermined.
Senior guard Jules Bernard and junior guard Johnny Juzang paced the Bruins scoring 19 points each. Fellow guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 14 points, three assists, and pair of blocks.
Like the Wildcats, the Bruins were efficient on offense, shooting 50% (31-of-62) from the floor and 48.1% (13-of-27) from the arc. UCLA out-rebounded the Roadrunners, 36-28, and won the turnover battle, 15-11.
UCLA is 7-0 ATS dating back to last season. The Bruins haven’t had that same success against Big East opponents, going 2-6 ATS in their last eight against teams from the conference.
The Pick is In
If Tuesday’s openers are any indication of how this contest will shake out, you better bring your popcorn and be ready for a shootout. The loss of Riley hurts, but the Bruins have enough talent at the guard position to make up for the loss of the big man.
Villanova struggled last season in perimeter defense, and they’ll face a tough test with the sharp-shooting Bruins lineup. UCLA hasn’t had much success against Big East foes, but the Bruins will feed off the fans in a packed Pauley Pavilion and secure a key non-con victory.
Betting Pick: UCLA Bruins -4.5