Pac-12 Saturday PreviewBy Lucas M.
Saturday brings a great slate of Pac-12 basketball action, featuring marquee matchups involving the No. 8-ranked Arizona Wildcats and the No. 10-ranked Oregon Ducks. The conference isn’t as strong as it traditionally is this season, but that doesn’t mean that savvy gamblers can’t take advantage of favorable lines. College basketball is one of the most profitable sports to bet on; there are simply too many games for the odds makers to keep track of all of them, and when a conference is having a down year, Vegas pays even less attention to the lines. You can take advantage of that. Here are the lines for this weekend’s series of Pac-12 games.
Colorado Buffalos (-5) at Utah Utes, 2:30 p.m. EST
When Utah last played, the were getting absolutely run off the court by the Stanford Cardinal, a team not known for its basketball prowess. They were 3.5 point underdogs in that game at home, but they were blown out, losing 87-56. The Buffalos, meanwhile, took care of business against Cal, winning 81-71. Both of these teams are 11-7 against the spread this season, making them both valuable bets. However, something has to give here, and I think it will be the Utes. A bounce back effort is possible after their demoralizing loss to Stanford, but Colorado is simply a superior team. Utah is 1-7 in Pac-12 play while Colorado is 4-4. The Utes have played some good teams close this season, but I don’t think this is one of them. The Buffalos should win by ten comfortably.
Arizona State Sun Devils (+5.5) at Washington Huskies
This line is a bit puzzling; Vegas seems to be giving the Huskies a ton of respect for its home court advantage, though it may not be warranted. The Huskies are 4-4 in Pac-12 play while the Sun Devils are 6-2. The Huskies have lost four straight games, including back to back ugly losses to Utah and Oregon State, two teams that don’t exactly qualify as basketball powerhouses. Arizona State, meanwhile, come into the game having won three straight, including an 18-point walloping of a very good UCLA team. Despite the tough road environment, I think the Sun Devils easily cover this spread; there’s a good chance they even win outright.
Oregon Ducks (+1.5) at Cal Golden Bears
Let’s be honest: there’s no reason the Ducks should drop this game. However, they’ve been inconsistent of late, and have turned the ball over at a staggering clip, giving it away 15.9 times per game, worst in the Pac-12. They turned it over 20 times on Wednesday in an ugly 76-52 loss to Stanford. “Turnovers were really a problem tonight,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said after the game. “We gave up some easy baskets and Stanford played with tremendous confidence after that. We just got it handed to us, there’s no other way to put it.”
Besides that hiccup, the Ducks are 7-1 in Pac-12 play and lead the conference; they’re 18-3 overall, and the No. 10-ranked team in the country. The Golden Bears only force 11 turnovers a game, so the Ducks may not get burned by their propensity to give the ball away. I think the Ducks win this game in the neighborhood of eight to nine points.
Arizona Wildcats (-7.5) at Washington State Cougars
Though Washington State is 11-7 against the spread this season (the Wildcats are only 9-9), this should be an easy cover for the Wildcats. They’ve had a tough road schedule this season, and have proved themselves against much better teams than the Cougars. Take Arizona at -7.5.