Wednesday isn’t the best day this week for marquee college basketball action around the country, but here are two intriguing matchups on the schedule – including one shocking winless school and the lone game involving a pair of Top 25 teams. Let’s take a look at this analysis for your NCAA Basketball bets.
Opportunities For December 14: Can Louisville Get First Win?
Western Kentucky at Louisville (+7.5)
ESPN2 has this telecast at 9 p.m. ET. Louisville is a shocking 0-9 on the season under first-year coach Kenny Payne. Growing pains were expected, but wow. The combined record of all Louisville opponents from the start of the season through the end of 2022 is 87-50. The Cardinals’ opponents over the last six games have an average KenPom ranking of 54. Ten of Louisville’s 14 opponents before the end of 2022 currently have at least six wins.After recording six or less assists in four of five previous games, Louisville set a new season high Saturday with 14 assists in a loss at Florida State. Guard/forward Mike James is one of 13 freshmen in the country averaging at least seven points per game, while also shooting at least 45% from the field, 38% from 3-point range and 80% from the free-throw line. Senior guard El Ellis has scored in double figures in seven of nine games this year. He is ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring at 15.6 points per game and in minutes per game (33.4).
WKU is off to its best start in over 15 seasons at 8-1, most recently defeating Wright State at home on Saturday night. WKU is second in the country in 3-point percentage (43.3%). WKU is also third in blocks per game (6.3). Jamarion Sharp leads the country in total blocks (43) and blocks per game (4.78). Luke Frampton is second in the country in 3-point percentage (58.3%).
Western Kentucky is 11-9 against Power Five teams since the start of the 2017-18 season. The Hilltoppers’ most recent Power Five win was over Louisville on Dec. 18, 2021. WKU’s most recent Power Five win on the road was at Alabama on Dec. 19, 2020. This is the 17th of 21 Power Five contests that WKU has played away from home. WKU has the opportunity to defeat Louisville in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1949.
Louisville is 42-40 all-time against the Hilltoppers, including 28-18 at home. The Cardinals had won nine straight in the series until last year’s 82-72 road loss.
No. 16 UCLA at No. 20 Maryland (-1.5)
Fox Sports 1 has this matchup, the only game tonight featuring Top 25 teams. The Bruins have won their last five games, including an 87-64 victory against Denver on Saturday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring (81.3 ppg), behind Arizona (91.2). UCLA ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (63.3 ppg allowed), behind Utah and Arizona State. The Bruins rank first in the Pac-12 in scoring margin (18.0 ppg) and first in turnover margin (+7.4 per game, ranks No. 6 in the nation). UCLA is tied for the league lead in steals per game with Colorado (8.4 spg) and ranks second in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (49.9%).
Coach Mick Cronin’s team has limited the opposition to 63.3 points per game, which ranked No. 59 nationally, through Sunday, Dec. 11. In four seasons under Cronin, the Bruins’ program has gone 55-2 when limiting the opposition to 65 points or fewer. This season, UCLA has gone 6-0 when holding the opponent to 65 points or fewer. Two of UCLA’s returning players (senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. and junior Jaylen Clark) were named to the five-person Pac-12 All-Defensive Team last season.
UCLA has not played along the East Coast during the regular season since taking on North Carolina in Brooklyn at the CBS Sports Classic on Dec. 19, 2015. North Carolina won that game, 89-76. UCLA last played in the Maryland/DC/Virginia region on Feb. 8, 2003 (UCLA won at Georgetown, 71-70, in Washington, D.C.).
In the loss to No. 7 Tennessee on Sunday, the Terps mounted a furious comeback cutting a 21-point deficit to just a single possession before ultimately falling 56-53 at the Barclays Center. Wednesday’s game against UCLA will mark the third ranked opponent in the last four games. The last time Maryland played such an early season stretch came in 2008-09 when the Terps faced No. 5 Michigan State (W, 80-62), No. 9 Gonzaga (L, 59-81), and No. 21 Georgetown (L, 48-75) to close out November at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The Terps enter the game at No. 17 in the current NCAA NET rankings. Maryland has a pair of Quad 1 wins (Miami, Illinois) and a Quad 2 win (Saint Louis). Maryland features four players averaging in double figures so far this season. Led by Jahmir Young’s 15.6 points, Donta Scott is just behind at 14.1 per game. Hakim Hart (12.4) and Julian Reese (11.9) round out the quartet. Young is the nation’s ninth-ranked active career scorer with at 16.6 point per game average and the 41st ranked player in overall points (1,577). Scott and Young have combined for 30-or-more points in six games this season.
UCLA leads the all-time series 6-2.
- Louisville and Maryland ATS