The Bellarmine Knights take on the UCLA Bruins. Check out our college basketball odds series for our Bellarmine UCLA prediction and pick.

The UCLA Bruins are still smarting after losing consecutive games to Illinois and Baylor one weekend ago in Las Vegas. They did thrash Pepperdine this past week, but that was entirely expected in a buy game which fattens the bank account of the visiting school and is meant to give a workout to the players on the bench who need to be developed over the course of a season. UCLA is still looking for a first high-end win of the season, all while Arizona has made an early-season statement by winning the Maui Invitational and going through San Diego State and Creighton in the process. Arizona has very clearly overtaken UCLA through the first three weeks of the season as the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference. UCLA needs to begin to make some statements to the contrary and announce that it is ready to step up and wrestle the Pac-12 away from Arizona, which won the regular-season and tournament championships in the league last season.

UCLA won’t be able to make such a loud statement in this game against Bellarmine, the Louisville-based mid-major which transitioned into Division I basketball last season and is now a full-fledged D-I basketball program. However, UCLA can continue to cultivate better habits and responses to pressure. The Bruins will want to hit their stride before Pac-12 Conference play begins, and before they run up against other nonconference tests. Coach Mick Cronin has a veteran lineup which should be able to round into form. We just haven’t seen that moment yet, the time when everything clicks and the Bruins find a groove at both ends of the floor. This team certainly has the capacity to be great; now it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together and generating the five-as-one continuity which informs any winning basketball team at any level of competition.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Bellarmine-UCLA College Basketball odds.

College Basketball Odds: Bellarmine-UCLA Odds

Bellarmine Knights: +22.5 (-115)

UCLA Bruins: -22.5 (-105)

Over: 136.5 (-110)

Under: 136.5 (-110)

Why Bellarmine Could Cover the Spread

The point spread is really big. UCLA was favored by 18.5 points against Pepperdine. This is four points larger, and on a late Sunday afternoon, one wonders if the intensity in the building will be great enough for UCLA to provide the kind of locked-in performance which generates a huge blowout and a spread cover. UCLA is going to win this game outright, but Bellarmine could certainly benefit from the Bruins being less than 100-percent focused. Given that this is the end of a long holiday weekend, and given that human nature will lead young athletes to drift from time to time, Bellarmine could easily lose by fewer than 20 points, which would be a cover for the Knights.

Why UCLA Could Cover the Spread

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This UCLA team looked better against Pepperdine. The Bruins were decisive and sharp in jumping on the Waves and not letting them off the mat. It should be apparent that while UCLA doesn’t measure up — not yet, at least — against elite teams, this is a very good team in terms of crushing bad teams. UCLA covered a 20-point spread against Norfolk State earlier this season. It covered as an 18.5-point favorite versus Pepperdine. Beating bad teams by a lot of points is something UCLA does well.

Final Bellarmine-UCLA Prediction & Pick

UCLA’s experience in crushing bad teams should be valued here. Take UCLA, which has already covered a few times this year as a large home favorite.

Final Bellarmine-UCLA Prediction & Pick: UCLA -22.5