JAMES MADISON DUKES (0-0)
at UCLA BRUINS (2-0)
Tip-off: Thursday, 11:00 p.m. ET
Line: UCLA -17
After a narrow escape in its first game of the Legends Classic, No. 13 UCLA is hoping things go smoother when it hosts James Madison on Thursday night.
The Bruins are a bit shorthanded. Top recruit (and top player) Shabazz Muhammad is out indefinitely during an NCAA investigation, sixth man Tyler Lamb is questionable with a sore knee, and stud freshman Kyle Anderson suffered a minor hand injury in Tuesday’s win over UC-Irvine. UCLA barely escaped an upset, beating the Anteaters in overtime. This is the season opener for James Madison, who went 12-20 SU last season but did go 7-6 ATS in road games.
Can the young Wildcats cover the spread? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Since Tuesday, the StatFox experts are a collective 10-2-1 ATS (83%) on Best Bets with the only losses coming in games where two experts disagreed. For the season, the group is a collective 23-14-2 ATS (62%) on Best Bets, with all four experts at 57% ATS or better. StatFox Dave is 5-0 ATS Best Bets since Monday, while StatFox Gary is 5-1 ATS in this three-day span.
Against UC-Irvine on Tuesday, UCLA led by as many as 12 in the first half before allowing Irvine back in. The Bruins needed a Larry Drew II layup with 17 seconds left to force overtime, and eventually prevailed 80-79. Freshman Jordan Adams saved the day, coming off the bench to score 26 points, including 16-for-16 FT. Adams also scored 21 in 22 minutes off the bench in their opener, a 27-point win over Indiana State. The Bruins’ big advantage should be down low, where they rotate twin PFs Travis (14.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and David (13.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG) Wear and 300-pound C Joshua Smith.
The Dukes have a veteran team, led by a senior backcourt of PG Devon Moore (8.8 PPG, 4.2 APG last season) and SG A.J. Davis (15.9 PPG). PF Rayshawn Goins (9.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG in 2010-11) returns after a redshirt year and gives them some beef inside, but at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, he’ll be giving away a lot of length against the Wear twins. SF Andrey Semenov’s (10.2 PPG, 44% 3-pt FG) shooting will be key if JMU is going to pull off an upset. He hit 47% of his threes on the road last year.