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College basketball expert Mike Spector gives his prediction for the highly anticipated UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs. UCLA Bruins matchup Saturday evening.
ANALYSIS

UNLV vs. UCLA Prediction: Will the Bruins Bounce Back?

The UCLA Bruins and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are each coming off losses in their last games against Division I competition. This is UCLA’s final non-conference game before starting an early PAC-12 schedule. Will the Bruins bounce back from their blowout loss against Gonzaga, or will the Runnin’ Rebels earn their biggest win of the season?

UNLV vs. UCLA Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Saturday, November 27, 2021Game Time: 5:00 p.m. ETWhere To Watch: N/A

Click Here For UNLV vs. UCLA Odds

UNLV vs. UCLA Prediction

UCLA entered its showdown with No. 1 Gonzaga with a 5-0 record and a win over a top-five Villanova team on its resume. However, Gonzaga exploited many of UCLA’s weaknesses and showed how far the Bruins need to go to get back to the Final Four this year. The Bruins could not stop Gonzaga in transition, in large part because Gonzaga’s offense was rarely slowed by taking the ball out of the net. Jaime Jaquez led the Bruins with 19 points, but that production came on an inefficient 22 shots. The career 52% shooter from inside the arc connected on just 6-of-18 2-point shots against the Bulldogs, and his 22 field goal attempts were more than double the next-highest teammate’s.

UNLV lost back-to-back games at the Roman Main Event against Michigan and Wichita State before bouncing back in a big way with a 56-point win over Division III Whittier in a tune-up game. The Runnin’ Rebels had an 11-point lead early in the second half and a one-point lead with five seconds left against Wichita State before two Tyson Etienne free throws proved to be the difference. After four games to start the season where they did not top 64 points, UNLV found its footing offensively against the Shockers, shooting 49% from the field and connecting on a season-high 47.4% of their 3-point attempts.

While many bettors may be down on the No. 2 ranked Bruins after their blowout loss to Gonzaga, UNLV does not pose any of the same issues that UCLA struggled with in that game. For starters, the Runnin’ Rebels do not have 7-foot Chet Holmgren manning the paint and altering any shot around the rim. Holmgren’s presence in the middle allowed Gonzaga’s perimeter defenders to be much more aggressive defending the 3-point line and getting in passing lanes. UNLV has one player over 6’6” (Royce Hamm) in their starting lineup, which suggests UCLA will get back to their efficient mid-range and post-up game.

In addition, UNLV will not beat UCLA in transition like Gonzaga did, as they prefer more of a half-court grind. The Runnin’ Rebels play at the country’s 224th slowest tempo (per KenPom), which should play into Mick Cronin’s team’s hand as they look to get back to the defensive success that held their first five opponents to an average of 67.8 PPG.

UCLA wants nothing more than a crisp performance on both ends of the court, as their PAC-12 opener against Colorado awaits next Wednesday. The Bruins are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 overall. Look for them to cover this number today.

UNLV vs. UCLA Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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