UCLA vs Marquette Prediction & Picks: Can Bona and the Bruins Test the Golden Eagles?

Eddie Griffin

Written by: Eddie Griffin

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UCLA vs Marquette basketball odds prediction picks 11/20/23 cover


In this week’s AP college basketball poll, Marquette is the only team in the top five not to receive a first-place vote. But the Golden Eagles have a golden opportunity to make a statement to the media and the nation at this week’s Maui Invitational, starting with tonight’s matchup with an unranked but dangerous UCLA team (11:30 pm ET, ESPN2).

The fourth-ranked Golden Eagles (3-0) will enter their matchup with the Bruins (3-0) knowing that a win today could set up a semifinal showdown tomorrow with #1 Kansas, and a win over the top-ranked Jayhawks could set up a championship clash on Wednesday with either #2 Purdue, #7 Tennessee, or #11 Gonzaga.

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If they were able to sweep their way through the tournament with wins over Kansas and Purdue, Marquette would likely move to the top of the AP poll for the first time since February 20, 1978, even if #3 Arizona beats #21 Michigan State in the Acrisure Classic on Thursday.

But there are a few bridges to cross before that point, and before they can think about a possible meeting with the Jayhawks, they first have to get by Adem Bona and the Bruins, who are 30th in the AP poll but come in 24th in this week’s Coaches poll.

UCLA vs Marquette Odds

Odds are courtesy of Bovada.


  • UCLA +6 (-115)
  • Marquette -6 (-105)


  • Over 142 (-105)
  • Under 142 (-115)


  • UCLA +205
  • Marquette -245

UCLA vs Marquette Prediction and Picks

Adem Bona UCLA basketball

Prediction: Marquette to win

Picks: Marquette -5.5 (-110 at Bovada) & Marquette team total over 73.5 (-115 at Bovada)

Last Tuesday, Marquette picked up a highly impressive win at then-#23 Illinois, holding Terrence Shannon Jr. and the Fighting Illini to only 35% shooting and forcing 15 turnovers in a 71-64 win in Champaign.

Illinois led early, but after the Golden Eagles took their first lead of the game with 15:35 left in the first half, they spent most of the rest of the game in front, with the exception of a back-and-forth four-minute stretch in the first nine minutes of the second half.

Is Marquette the best team in the country? There’s certainly an argument to be made, given what they bring to the table.

Top Players for Marquette

  • Kam Jones: 19.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.0 APG
  • Tyler Kolek: 14.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.7 APG
  • Odo Ighodaro: 13.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.3 APG
  • Chase Ross: 8.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG

That includes perhaps the best point guard in college basketball in Tyler Kolek, the reigning Big East Player of the Year. Kolek shook off an ankle injury to shine as a scorer against Illinois, recording 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting, along with six rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

While Marquette is chasing a championship with the core of last year’s team leading the way, UCLA is still working on putting a new puzzle together.

The Bruins lost the top five scorers from last year’s team, which fell to Gonzaga in a wild Sweet Sixteen thriller. But in addition to some very talented new faces, the Bruins have a big building block, both in size and talent, in sophomore big man Adem Bona.

Bona suffered a shoulder injury in last season’s Pac-12 Tournament against Oregon, and along with limiting his availability for March Madness, it lingered on well into the offseason.

But the 6’10’’ sophomore is fit and firing thus far this season. He had a rough game against Lafayette, making only 1 of 7 shots from the field, but he has been dominant in UCLA’s other two games.

Top Players for UCLA

  • Adem Bona: 18.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG
  • Sebastian Mack: 12.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG
  • Dylan Andrews: 11.0 PPG, 3.5 APG
  • Lazar Stefanovic: 9.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.3 SPG

In the opener against St. Francis (PA), he had 28 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, and last time out, he had 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks against LIU last Wednesday.

For UCLA to have a chance against Marquette, Bona will have to play more like he did against St. Francis and LIU, and the Bruins will have to present some sort of threat from outside. Through three games, they have attempted only 29 three-pointers and made seven, a clip of only 24.1%.

If this game were to be replayed again on a neutral court later this season, I think UCLA would be far more competitive. But where they are at the moment, I don’t think the Bruins will quite be able to do more than perhaps hang around most of the way and put a scare into the Golden Eagles.

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Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin

Eddie Griffin has been writing about and betting on sports for over a decade and has been with Betting News since 2021. For more of his thoughts on sports and sports betting, you can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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