The Washington State Cougars open the final week of conference play with a Wednesday night game against the UCLA Bruins. Washington State (11-18 overall, 2-14 conference) has lost nine consecutive games and is looking to find some kind of momentum going into next week's conference tournament in Las Vegas.
UCLA (22-7, 12-4) is tied for the conference lead with Oregon. The Bruins assured themselves a first round bye in the conference tourney with their 74-69 win over Arizona last Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, and can assure themselves of at least a tie for the conference’s regular-season crown by winning at Washington State and at Washington this week.
UCLA is led by super frosh forward Shabazz Muhammad. The talented youngster leads the Bruins with 18.3 ppg, the second-highest scoring average among Pac-12 players (behind California’s Allen Crabbe, 18.4 ppg). Muhammad ranks 36th, nationally, in points per game, but first among all freshmen in the country. He is second in the Pac-12 in three-point field goal percentage (.446).
WSU will counter with senior forward Brock Motum and a trio of talented guards. Mike Ladd, DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge have all had their moments this season,and will need to show up Wednesday night against the first place Bruins if the Cougars are to have a chance to pull the upset.
Las Vegas lists the Bruins as a 3 1/2 point favorite. Regular season championships aren't as important in basketball as they are in football but it's hard to imagine the Bruins not being motivated enough to cover that number. Take the Bruins, give the points and spend your winnings visiting Grand Coulee Dam.