It’s an all-California battle with a spot in the Sweet Sixteen on the line on Saturday in Oregon. The No. 4 UCLA took down No. 13 Akron in a close First Round game 57-53, while No. 5 Saint Mary’s rolled to an 82-53 victory over No. 12 Indiana.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 p.m. ET from the Moda Center in Portland. The game will air on TBS, and UCLA is a 2.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.
No. 4 UCLA: 25-7 (15-5 Pac-12): At-Large
First round result: Won 57-53 against Akron
KenPom rating: 8 Overall, 15 Offense, 12 Defense
NET ranking: 10, (5-4 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Johnny Juzang (16 ppg)
Key stat: UCLA has a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio, which is No. 8 in the country.
The Bruins were able to come away with the win in large part to their three-point shooting and assist numbers. The teams were evenly matched in rebounds and on defense, so this one came down to the offenses. The Bruins shot 36.4% from three-point range compared to 23.5% for the Zips. UCLA also had 14 assists compared to Akron’s four. They spread the ball around to give their shooters optimal looks and it paid off.
Junior guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. had a great all-around performance for UCLA. He had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He was most effective at the charity stripe as he hit eight of his nine free throws.
It wasn’t a flashy win, but a win is a win in the NCAA Tournament. Look for UCLA to run its game plan and play the game at their tempo. At KenPom, the Bruins are one of the most efficient teams on either side of the ball. Their adjusted efficiency numbers rank 15th on offense and 14th on defense making them one of the most well-rounded Division 1 teams.
No. 5 Saint Mary’s: 25-7 (12-3): At-large bid
First round result: Beat Indiana 82-53
KenPom rating: 16 Overall, 64 Offense, 9 Defense
NET ranking: 19, (4-7 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Matthias Tass 12.6 PPG
Key stat: 13-3 in their final 16 games
The Gaels came away with such a big win due to their rebounding edge, shooting, and spreading the ball to all teammates. They out-rebounded the Hoosiers 39-28 and brought in 29 of their defensive rebounds compared to Indiana’s 22. The Gaels shot 51.7% from the field and 47.6% from three and they held the Hoosiers to 34% from the field and 20% from three. Saint Mary’s doubled up Indiana in assists with 16 to their eight.
The guard duo of Logan Johnson and Tommy Kuhse combined for 39 points in the win. They also paired to add a total of eight rebounds and seven assists.
Saint Mary’s is going to make it tough for the Bruins to come down with offensive rebounds. The Gaels are allowing opposing teams to only come down with 21.8% of their offensive rebounds which is the third-fewest among Division 1 teams. Even if UCLA is able to bring in some boards, they will struggle to extend their possessions with offensive rebounds.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: UCLA -2.5
Point total: 126
Moneyline: Saint Mary’s +130, UCLA -150
Against The Spread Pick: Saint Mary’s +2.5
Point total pick: Over 126
Pick to Win: Saint Mary’s
The Bruins were able to force their opponents to play to their tempo all season. Saint Mary’s offense is going to prove to be too explosive for UCLA to handle though. The Gaels are one of the better shooting teams remaining in the field and they are going to have the advantage on the boards. They are going to capitalize on UCLA’s misses on defense and they are adept at scoring in transition. All of these factors point to a win for the Gaels.
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