UCLA vs. Utah odds: College basketball picks from expert who's undefeated on Utes

A prime-time Pac-12 showdown on Thursday features surging clubs vying for position in the conference standings and looking to boost their postseason resumes. Utah will try to avenge a blowout loss to UCLA when it hosts the Bruins in an important rematch at 9 p.m. ET.

The Utes are listed as 2.5-point favorites, with the over-under for total points scored set at 149.5.

Before picking a side, you need to listen to what SportsLine handicapper Mike Tierney has to say. The West Coast-based sportswriter and veteran SportsLine analyst has proven to have a keen sense for Pac-12 clubs. He has an eye-popping 16-5 ATS record when handicapping games involving UCLA or Utah, including a perfect 5-0 on the Utes this season. 

Appropriately, Tierney has zeroed in on Thursday's UCLA-Utah game and locked in a strong pick.

He knows both clubs appear headed on an upward trajectory. UCLA's 83-64 home blowout of the Utes in the first matchup was followed by three straight losses to drop its Pac-12 record to 4-4.

But the Bruins have won six of their last seven to move into third place in the conference and vastly improve their postseason resume. They are coming off a thrilling 86-78 overtime win over Oregon on Saturday. Aaron Holiday led the way with 29 points, including a crucial three-point play in overtime.

Utah's loss in the first meeting with UCLA was part of a dismal 2-4 conference start that included three double-figure defeats. The Utes looked overmatched and underprepared, and they seemed an unlikely candidate for a dramatic turnaround.

However, they have done just that, with four straight wins by an average of 17 points. A win Thursday could forge a tie with the Bruins for third place in the Pac-12.

Tierney has identified a key stat that determines which side of the spread you should back.

Will rugged Utah get its payback and a crucial win, or will UCLA build on its torrid late-season run? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of UCLA-Utah you should support Thursday, and see what critical stat determines the outcome, all from the expert who's won five straight Utes' games.

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