Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:30 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Norfolk St +20½ over UCLA
Pauley Pavilion - Los Angeles, CA
Streaming: PAC-12 Network
10:00 PM EST. UCLA is rolling along. They’re ranked #8 in the country and some suggest they should be ranked even higher. This is a Bruins’ team that went to the Final Four last year. At its floor, UCLA is an NCAA Tournament first-weekend group. At their ceiling, the Bruins could get back to the Final Four.
Mick Cronin took over a UCLA program that had been 20-16 in league play during Steve Alford’s final two seasons and has quickly made the Bruins nationally relevant again. This year should be no different despite losing two fixtures from the Final Four team in last year’s leading scorer Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard, who combined for more than 28 points per game. The Bruins bring back two veteran starters and all-league players, add a trio of top-50 freshmen and return a few more key pieces to round it all out. That should be enough to keep it rolling in Westwood.
UCLA has had two gloried practices to begin the year, thus, they are 2-0 after beating Sac State by 26 and Long Beach State by 24. Those two programs are ranked 260th and 154th respectively. Norfolk State is 2-1 after playing its first two games against two Division II programs but then they played #3 Baylor, at Baylor and lost by 17. The Spartans were down eight at the half and were within 13 to 15 points almost the entire second half before losing by 17. That’s what Norfolk State does. They schedule games against tough opponents and then they do serious damage in league play.
Norfolk State has an eye-popping 104-34 record in league play (.754 win percentage) and has never finished worse than tied for second. Last season, Norfolk State went 24-7 record (12-2 in conference) and earned its second-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The Spartans led the MEAC in both offensive and defensive efficiency. With 11 players returning, they have positioned themselves to win the league yet again and there is no reason they can’t come in under the number here, as this team should never be taking back this many points. The real kicker however, is that UCLA has a game against #19 Illinois on deck on Friday night, its first test of the season and first “real game” of the season.
Norfolk St +20½ -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)