Over the course of the last 24 hours, the Villanova-UCLA betting odds have changed a pretty significant amount.
The Bruins opened as five point favorites. The line has since been bet down to UCLA (-3), and I would not be surprised to see that steam continue to drive the line lower.
The public is heavy on a road underdog that will be tipping off against a reigning Final Four team at 11:30 p.m. their time. Should they be?
Longtime college basketball writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 Network is here to break down the Champions Classic odds and breaks down his picks for Michigan State vs. Kansas and Duke vs Kentucky.
VILLANOVA vs. UCLA BETTING ODDS
GAME TIME: 11:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
MONEYLINE: UCLA -157 ML, Villanova +130 ML
SPREAD: UCLA -3
VILLANOVA vs. UCLA PREDICTION
I understand why the line in this game has moved the way that it has.
Villanova is one of the most successful programs in college basketball over the course of the last decade. They returned an All-American point guard in Collin Gillespie along with three other starters. They are old, and old Villanova teams tend to be really successful Villanova teams.
At the same time, UCLA is coming off of a weird season. They made a run to the Final Four after finding themselves in the play-in game on Selection Sunday, and they are essentially running it back with the same core. If they were just OK before getting insanely hot down the stretch of last season, why are they going to be anything more than just OK this season?
And the answer, to me, is simple: Myles Johnson and Peyton Watson. The reason UCLA’s season turned around in March is that they started defending. They started playing up to the level that we expect of a Mick Cronin team on that end of the floor. That will continue this year. Johnson is precisely the kind of big body rim protector that this group was missing a season ago. At the very minimum, he is going to take up a ton of space and hoover up plenty of missed shots. And while Watson is a top ten recruit, he is a guy that can play that same kind of positionless, versatile wing role while thriving defensively alongside Jaime Jaquez.
Most importantly, I think that with Jaquez, Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard and, to a point, Watson, this is a team with enough guys that create on their own. Villanova switches everything defensively. They are not afraid to play themselves into mismatches. UCLA has dudes that can take advantage of those mismatches.
And I do think there will be plenty of them. Look, the difference between this Villanova team and past Villanova teams is the overall talent level. They had five NBA players on the roster when they won in 2016. They had four when they won in 2018. Who on this year’s Villanova roster is heading to the NBA? Where are the first round picks, the Eric Paschalls or Mikal Bridges or Ryan Arcidiaconos? They aren’t there.
I’m higher than consensus on UCLA this season. I’m also lower than consensus on Villanova this season. I loved the Bruins at (-5). You know how much I love them if I’m going to be betting on the same side as Vegas.