UCLA BRUINS (3-0)
vs. GEORGETOWN HOYAS (2-0)
Legends Classic – Brooklyn, NY
Tip-off: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: UCLA -6, Total: 131
After a long wait, Shabazz Muhammad will finally take the court for No. 13 UCLA as the Bruins face Georgetown in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Bruins are 3-0 to start the year, but have reached that mark without potentially their best player, heralded freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who was initially deemed ineligible after receiving impermissible benefits. UCLA’s offense has been potent to begin the year with 88.7 points per game, led by Jordan Adams 24.0 PPG. Joined by Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Muhammad, Ben Howland has one of the most dangerous crews of freshmen in the nation. But Georgetown is also undefeated to start the year, and fellow first-year D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has been extremely impressive for the Hoyas, shooting 64.3% from the field to start the year with 15.0 PPG. The Bruins will also have their hands full keeping Georgetown sophomore forward Greg Whittington, who is averaging a double-double this season, off the glass for easy points.
Can UCLA run away from Georgetown on Monday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. This season, the experts are a collective 35-33-2 ATS (51%) on Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 8-2 ATS in the past six days and 67% (10-5 ATS) Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave went 3-1 ATS on weekend Best Bets and StatFox Brian is at 53% (9-8-1) Best Bets for the season.
Although he is averaging just 6.0 PPG, Larry Drew II has been the key to UCLA’s offense this year, tallying 8.3 APG as the only Bruins player averaging more than 30 MPG. He has committed just five turnovers in 108 minutes of action. Sophomore guard Norman Powell has also been critical in their backcourt with 12.7 PPG while proving his worth on the defensive end with 1.0 BPG and 1.3 SPG. And this team will never be fun to mess around with in the post. Anderson, a 6-foot-9 freshman, is extremely physical (9.7 RPG), while twin PFs David Wear (12.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and Travis Wear (11.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG) are as steady as ever. The issue will be finding a formula to mesh all these weapons with Muhammad figuring to get a large number of touches from game one.
The big news for Georgetown is the health of its top player, Otto Porter, who sat out with concussion-like symptoms in the last game, a 68-59 win over Liberty last Wednesday. He is expected to return on Monday, but it's unclear if he will log his typical 30+ minutes. No Hoyas player is averaging more than 3.0 APG, but the team has 14.5 APG as a team. Smith-Rivera has been the biggest beneficiary of that passing, but sophomore Mikael Hopkins (13.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has also proven to be dangerous on the block, and he should be key in defending against the Wears and Anderson with 1.0 BPG and 1.5 SPG. Whittington (13.0 PPG, 12.0 RPG) is just one of three Hoyas who plays more than 30 MPG with Nate Lubick (10.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and Markel Starks (6.0 PPG, 2.5 APG) rounding out that crew. Lubick and Whittington will provide key length while the team will rely on Smith-Rivera offensively to stay hot from deep—he has begun the year making 9-of-14 shots, including 5-of-7 from downtown.