Ronda Churchill / AP
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Rolling ahead with the third entry in our Play of the Day feature:
If you’re unfamiliar with what’s going on here, I suggest reading the top of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts. Just ignore the first pick. I’ll try to overcome that professional debacle with a college basketball bet below.
UCLA +100 moneyline vs. Arizona: $250 to win $250
For the first two plays of the day, we slummed with games of relative insignificance. Time to boost this exercise up to the marquee.
The biggest game Thursday night takes place a couple hundred miles south at Pauley Pavilion, a venue that hasn’t been kind to Arizona coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats won at Westwood in Miller’s first year, but have dropped three straight since.
UCLA, despite sports books posting it as the underdog on every occasion, defeated Arizona all three times the teams met a year ago — at home, on the road and here in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. Anyone who saw Jordan Adams gash Arizona for 24 points at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is second-guessing how his team is an underdog, by one point, at home 10 months later.
At 15-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, Arizona is certainly better than it was a year ago. The Wildcats will likely be favored in all of their remaining 16 regular-season games.
But here’s the thing: They’re not going undefeated. They’ve been somewhat fortunate, ranking 38th in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s luck metric, to go 4-0 in games decided by less than two possessions.
Even though they have two quality road wins — against Michigan and San Diego State — to pair with a big neutral-site victory — versus Duke — the first conference trip is always different.
Especially against a team as hot-shooting as UCLA, which made 11 three-pointers in 34-point blowout over USC Sunday, in a building as electric as Pauley, which shouldn’t have any problems attracting a crowd for this one.
UCLA sophomore forward Kyle Anderson is averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game, numbers that edge Arizona’s more-heralded Aaron Gordon’s 12 points and eight rebounds. Look for a motivated Anderson to win their one-on-one matchup, which should enable UCLA to pull away by the end.
Standings: Brewer (0-0-1, $10,000), Bern (0-0, $10,000), Keefer (0-1, $9,750)