No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Villanova will face off in a late game Friday night at Westwood’s Pauley Pavilion in what could be one of the best and most even and compelling matchups of opening week — and possibly of opening month — of the 2021-22 college basketball season.
The Bruins are slight favorites at home over the visiting Wildcats but both teams enter the game having blown out their competition in season-openers. For UCLA, that was a 95-58 destruction of CSU Bakersfield, and for Villanova, it was a 91-51 dismantling of Mount St. Mary’s. So it’s hard to get a good feel on what to expect when the teams clash Friday.
One thing is certain: Both teams boast experience and depth that programs across the country covet. UCLA returns every player of significance from its Final Four run a season ago and Villanova returns star guard Collin Gillespie and a wealth of experience around him. It sets up an old-school college hoops showdown Friday between two legit title contenders.
Here is what to know before the game and who our team expects to come out on top.
How to watch UCLA vs. Villanova live
Date: Friday, Nov. 12 | Time: 11:30 p.m. ET Location: Pauley Pavilion — Los Angeles TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
UCLA vs. Villanova prediction, picks
Featured Game| UCLA Bruins vs. Villanova Wildcats
UCLA is the slight betting favorite and on a neutral court, this feels like it’d probably be a pick ’em. But it’s not on a neutral court — it’s on UCLA’s court. So inside Pauley Pavilion I like the Bruins to ride the wave of crowd support to a big win (figuratively but not literally). Nova will keep this close though, I’d expect, so I’m taking the points with the ‘Cats. Prediction: UCLA 69, Villanova 66
President Masai Ujiri confirmed to reporters that the team has not engaged in contract talks with Siakam. The 29-year-old is in the final year of his deal and is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.
Ujiri said he remains confident in the team’s core and wants to see how they play in newly appointed head coach Darko Rajaković’s system before offering new deals.
“We do believe in Pascal. We do believe that a lot of our players didn’t play the right way last year, and we want to see them play the right way,” Ujiri explained. “I said that we were selfish. I’m not running away from that. We were selfish and we did not play the right way. So, let us see it when we play the right way.”
Siakam’s name was mentioned in trade rumours during the off-season, with reports suggesting multiple teams were expressing interest in the two-time All-NBA player.
It wasn’t easy, it definitely wasn’t pretty, and it took a lot of help from the Chicago Bears, but they still pulled it off.
Sean Payton’s team was trailing by three scores late in the third quarter and put together an epic rally to take home a three-point win.
Following the win, NFL analyst Sam Monson talked with Steve Palazzolo on the PFF NFL Podcast, stating that even though the Broncos’ defense is ‘a joke,’ Russell Wilson has looked much better this season.
Monson stated that it’s still highly unlikely that we’ll ever see the old version of Russell Wilson on the field again; this version was definitely more efficient and similar to what he was throughout the entire course of his career.
Vance Joseph’s defense has been one of the worst to start the season, and that’s a big surprise.
Besides his defensive expertise, we’re talking about a team whose defensive personnel made people think they would rank among the best defensive units in the league, just like what happened last season.
The Broncos have allowed 98 points in the past two weeks, and while 28 is way less than 70, they still made the Bears’ offense look like a Super Bowl-caliber team, which is definitely not the case.
Sean Payton and Vance Joseph have a lot of work to do to right the ship, but at least they finally managed to get that first win of the season and the new era.