Sunday's Pac-12 Action
March 1, 2014
By David Schwab
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The madness of March is just getting started, but this Sunday in the Pac-12, it will be front and center with two key conference matchups on the slate. The first pits Stanford on the road against No. 3 Arizona as the Cardinal will attempt to avenge a tight three-point loss to the Wildcats in late January. In the nightcap, UCLA will try and snap a two-game skid when it plays host to Oregon State.
We'll take a closer look at some key stats and betting trends for both of these conference showdowns.
Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 3 Arizona Wildcats (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)
Stanford has been penciled-in as a mid-range seed for the NCAA Tournament by quite a few basketball experts, but a win on Sunday would probably seal the deal. It lost the first meeting in this season’s series 60-57 as a six-point home favorite as part of an overall straight-up conference record of 9-6. The Cardinal have been on a profitable run to close out the season with a 7-2 record against the spread in their last nine games with the total staying UNDER in four of their last five contests.
Heading into this matchup, Stanford has exceeded its scoring average of 75.2 points per game in five of its last nine outings. However, it could only muster 64 points in this past Wednesday’s 12-point loss to Arizona State as a two-point road underdog. This followed a huge 83-74 victory over then-No. 23 UCLA as a two-point favorite at home. At times, the Cardinal have not helped their cause with a defense that is allowing an average of 69.0 PPG.
Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis each scored 13 points in the first matchup against the Wildcats and Chasson Randle added 12 points in the losing cause. Randle leads Stanford in scoring with an average of 18.7 points while shooting a solid 47.9 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point range. Huestis is pulling down a team-high 8.4 rebounds and Powell leads the team in assists with 3.7.
Arizona has already clinched the Pac-12 regular season title with a three-game lead over UCLA combined with an earlier win over the Bruins. The big carrot that the Wildcats are still playing for in their last three regular season games and the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament is a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. They come into this game with an overall record of 26-2 SU and they are 17-10 ATS after covering in four of their last five games. Arizona is 10-6 ATS at home and the total has stayed UNDER in 11 of 15 home games with a posted line.
The Wildcats have dialed-up the offense in their last two contests with 88 points against Colorado and 87 points in a romp over Cal, but their strong suit is still a defense that is holding opponents to an average of just 57.9 points, which is the fifth-lowest total in the nation. Arizona has also been highly effective under the boards with an average of 39.1 rebounds a game.
The loss of Brandon Ashley in mid-February with a season ending foot injury took a good chunk out of Arizona’s offensive attack, but Nick Johnson has been able to step up his game to help fill the void. He put up 22 points in this past Wednesday’s win over Cal and he is averaging a team-high 16.2 PPG. Aaron Gordon is adding 11.9 points and he leads the team in rebounds with 7.7. Overall, the Wildcats are averaging 73.9 PPG and shooting 47.1 percent from the field.
Arizona has been opened as a 12-point home favorite to complete the season sweep over the Cardinal.
Oregon State Beavers vs. UCLA Bruins (FOX Sports 1, 9 p.m.)
The Beavers have lost four of their last six games and things do not get any easier from here with games against Arizona and Arizona State to close-out the season. They are now 7-8 SU in conference play and after failing to cover in three of their last five outings they have fallen to 8-7 ATS in the Pac-12. The total has stayed UNDER in three of those five games.
Oregon State is coming off a 76-66 victory over USC this past Thursday as a one-point road underdog, but that was just the second time in its lasts last five games it eclipsed its season scoring average of 75.7 points. Conversely, the Beavers have allowed 75 points or more in six of their last nine contests, but that should not come as all that big of a surprise considering they are giving-up an average of 74.5 PPG.
Roberto Nelson has done it all for Oregon State this season with a team-high 20.6 points and 3.7 assists a game while shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range. In a 71-67 victory over UCLA on Feb. 3 he was held to just 12 points, but Hallice Cooke came up big with a game-high 20 points. The Beavers closed as five-point home underdogs in that game. Devin Collier (13.5 points) and Angus Brandt (12.6 points) are the other two players scoring in double figures.
The Bruins followed up their recent loss to Stanford with an 87-83 double-overtime defeat against Oregon as 3 ½-point home favorites this past Thursday. The total went OVER the closing 153-point line and it has now gone OVER in five of their last six games. UCLA is second in the Pac-12 standings at 10-5 (both SU and ATS), but those two losses sunk its title hopes. It has covered in 11 of 16 home games this season and the total has gone OVER in six of its last eight games at home.
Both Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson are expected to play on Sunday after serving out a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Adams leads the Bruins in scoring with 17.2 PPG and Anderson has been a force across the board with 14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists. In their absence this past Thursday night, freshman Bryce Alford put-up 31 points in the losing cause in his first career start at UCLA.
The Bruins remain one of the highest scoring teams in the nation with an average of 82.9 points and they are shooting 49.1 percent from the field. As is the case with many of the teams in this conference, defense does not appear to be a priority and UCLA is no exception. It is allowing an average of 71 PPG and this number has jumped to 74.2 points in its last six contests.
The Bruins have been opened as 13 ½-point home favorites over Oregon State to avoid the season sweep.
UCLA had dominated this series for years, but the Beavers have now won two of the last three meetings SU and they are 4-0 ATS in the last four games. Despite the high-scoring nature of both of these teams along with a lack of solid defense, the total has stayed UNDER in four of the last five contests.
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