Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#703 UCLA vs.
#704 Notre Dame
Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 3:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#703 University of California, Los Angeles
#704 University of Notre Dame
7-3
6-3
13-19
13-20
16-16
13-20
78
68
77
68

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The UCLA Bruins will get another chance at a quality win on Saturday afternoon when they travel on the road to Purcell Pavilion for a non-conference tilt against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The Bruins are still searching for their first top-100 victory of the season under first-year head coach Mick Cronin. UCLA has won seven of its first 10 games under Cronin, who has been tasked with reinvigorating a basketball program that has been trending down in recent seasons. While this will count as a Tier-A matchup for UCLA, Notre Dame will have to avoid an upset in what would be considered as a bad home loss against a Bruins team ranked outside the top-100. The Fighting Irish have also gone 7-3 through their first 10 contests and have yet to earn a quality win. Can the Bruins come out on top versus the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday afternoon?

Cronin still seeking first marquee win at UCLA

UCLA won its second straight game in blowout fashion on Sunday, taking down Denver 81-62 behind 21 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore Cody Riley. Jaime Jaquez chipped in 16 points while Prince Ali added 11 for the Bruins, who forced 17 turnovers and went to the free-throw line 27 times on the night.

Mick Cronin’s first year in Los Angeles hasn’t gone exactly as planned but the Bruins have mostly taken care of business through the first 10 games of his tenure at UCLA. The Bruins have won seven of their first 10 contests but are still looking for their first quality win of the season after suffering losses to BYU and Michigan State. UCLA comes into the weekend slotted at No. 110 in the latest KenPom rankings after scoring 105.5 points per 100 possessions (67th in the NCAA) through their first 10 contests. While the Bruins haven’t been efficient from the field, they’ve made up for it by crashing the offensive boards and getting to the free-throw line at a high rate. UCLA owns the eighth-best offensive rebounding rate in the country at 37.3 percent and they get to the charity stripe at a healthy 43.0 percent clip (12th in the NCAA). However, the Bruins have shot just 51.5 percent from 2-point range and only 30.5 percent from beyond the arc (253rd in the NCAA) so far this season.

On defense, Cronin’s squad has surrendered 100.5 points per 100 possessions while allowing opponents too many open looks from deep. The Bruins have been getting torched from beyond the arc, allowing teams to shoot 38.6 percent from deep (328th in the NCAA) this season.

Fighting Irish hope to take care of business at home vs. UCLA

Notre Dame snapped a two-game slide on Tuesday evening with a 110-71 victory at home against the Detroit Mercy Titans. Dane Goodwin scored a team-high 27 points to lead six Fighting Irish players in double-figures on the night. TJ Gibbs chipped in 18 points and Juwan Durham added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who shot 20-for-39 from long-range in the win.

Mike Brey has guided the Fighting Irish to a 7-3 start through their first 10 games but Notre Dame is still in search of its first quality win of the season. The Fighting Irish enter the weekend ranked No. 63 in the latest KenPom rankings and they rank among the most efficient teams in the country in terms of taking care of the basketball. Notre Dame has scored 105.0 points per 100 possessions (74th in the NCAA) for the season while turning the ball over on only 14.1 percent of their offensive possessions (3rd in the NCAA). However, putting the ball in the hoop has been an entirely different struggle for the Fighting Irish, who sports an effective field goal percentage of just 49.7 percent (157th in the NCAA). Poor shooting and a lack of free-throw attempts have limited Notre Dame’s efficiency on offense.

On the other end of the floor, the Fighting Irish have surrendered 93.2 points per 100 possessions (55th in the NCAA) while forcing turnovers on 20.1 percent of their defensive possessions (146th in the NCAA). Notre Dame has limited opposing teams to an effective field goal percentage of 45.9 percent (77th in the NCAA), including just 45.0 percent shooting from inside the arc (75th in the NCAA).

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UCLA is an elite rebounding team. According to KenPom, they rank 30th in average height (78.1 inches) and they use their length to their advantage by ranking in the top-15 in both offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding rate. UCLA’s struggles to defend the 3-point line could come back to haunt them in this game but they should be able to make up some points by getting to the free-throw line and winning the battle on the boards. That should be enough to keep them in striking distance here. Take the Bruins to cover the spread on the road in South Bend on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: UCLA Bruins

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These two teams play at opposite ends of the pace spectrum but we should still get treated to a relatively average-paced game here. UCLA likes to slow down the tempo but their ability to generate second-chance shots and get to the free-throw line should help them put up points in this game. Meanwhile, Notre Dame likes to push the pace and shoot a lot of 3-pointers on offense, which will help inflate the total. Add in the fact that the Bruins have been among the worst teams in the country at defending the 3-ball and this game should have no issues going over the projected total on Saturday.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.