Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:45 AM

UCLA vs. Michigan State Predictions, Odds, Preview

Mar. 18, 2021

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UCLA vs. Michigan State Predictions

The UCLA Bruins will square off in a battle of blue bloods against the Michigan State Spartans at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. at 9:57 p.m. ET on TBS in the final contest of the First Four field.

Head coach Tom Izzo's bunch is favored by just one point in what is essentially a coin-flip game with a total of 136.5. Perhaps the slight advantage goes to the Spartans since they'll be playing on a Big Ten school's floor at Purdue, a place actually played Feb. 16, although they lost to the Boilermakers 75-65.

UCLA finished the season on a whimper, losing 83-79 in overtime against Oregon State in their only game in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins ended up losing each of their final four games, while going just 1-3 ATS. Their last win came Feb. 25 at Utah, a 76-61 win as a one-point favorite.

  • Score Prediction: Michigan State 76 UCLA 70
  • Best Bets - Side: Michigan State -1
  • Best Bets - Total: OVER 136.5

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First Four Predictions

Thursday's Preview - Mar. 18, 2021

UCLA vs. Michigan State Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: Michigan State -1
  • Total: 136.5
  • Money-Line: Michigan State -125 UCLA +105

Odds to Win NCAA Tournament

Odds to Win East Regional

Odds Subject to Change

Handicapping Resources: March Madness Central | NCAA Consensus Picks

Handicapping UCLA vs. Michigan State

The Bruins looked like they were in good shape in mid- to late February, going 4-0 SU/2-2 ATS, including two road wins against Washington and Utah. But that was the problem with the Bruins this season. They topped the middling and lower-tier teams in the league, but struggled against the good teams.

UCLA has also really struggled against the number lately, going 3-11 ATS across the past 14 games dating back to Jan. 16. They haven't covered in consecutive games since Jan. 2-14 when they were on a 4-0 ATS run.

Michigan State lost 12 games this season, including a 68-57 loss to Maryland in the Big Ten tournament. They were a bit erratic down the stretch, and they'll be glad they don't have to see the Terrapins again, as they also lost to them in the regular season on Feb. 28, falling 73-55. The big win which wowed the NCAA Tournament selection committee was a 70-64 win at home over Michigan on March 7 in the regular-season finale.

The fact Sparty beat Michigan, and also had a win over Illinois and Ohio State, shows they can hang with anyone. Of course, losses to the likes of Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers also shows they can lose to anyone, too. These are two inconsistent teams, but Sparty should come out on top in the end.

  • Region: East
  • Matchup: 11 vs. 11
  • Venue: Mackey Arena
  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Date: Mar. 18, 2021
  • TV-Time: TBS - 9:57 p.m. (ET)

Betting Stats & Analysis - UCLA Bruins

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

UCLA lost to a very poor Oregon State side in overtime in their only conference tournament game, and they stumble in on a four-game losing streak and with zero momentum. They have also covered just once in the past four, and they're 3-11 ATS in the past 14. That doesn't give bettors a whole lot of confidence that they'll be going much further than Thursday's game.

UCLA is also just 4-10 ATS in the past 14 neutral-site games, while going 2-7 ATS in their past nine games against winning side. The Bruins, once a regular championship contender who used to run the NCAA Tournament, have going just 1-4 ATS in the past five appearances in the Big Dance.

The UNDER is 5-2 in UCLA's past seven as an underdog, and the UNDER is 4-1 in their previous five against winning teams. The UNDER is also 4-1 in their past five showings in the NCAA Tournament.

Seed: 11
Conference: Pac-12
Bid: At-large

  • SU: 17-9
  • ATS: 12-14
  • O/U: 15-11
  • Current Form (Last 5): 1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS, 3-2 O/U
  • Notable Wins: Colorado, Arizona (2), Oregon State
  • PS/G: 72.8 (131st)
  • PA/G: 68.5 (119th)
  • Off Rtg: 108.1 (61st)
  • Def Rtg: 101.7 (211th)

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Betting Stats & Analysis - Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State has routinely overproduced in the NCAA Tournament over the years, but they're having a down season in 2020-21. Of course, when the Spartans have been overlooked in the past, they have surprised, so don't write them off.

The Spartans are just 7-17 ATS in the past 24 games overall, however, and they're 2-10 ATS in the past 12 as a favorite and just 1-6 ATS in the past seven neutral-site games. So if they outproduce expectations, it will be a giant surprise. They're also 2-5 ATS in the past seven NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.

The UNDER has connected in six in a row for Sparty, while going 4-0 in their past four NCAA Tournament games, too. The UNDER is also 12-3-1 in the past 16 neutral-site games.

Seed: 11
Conference: Big Ten
Bid: At-large

  • SU: 15-12
  • ATS: 9-18
  • O/U: 10-17
  • Current Form (Last 5): 2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS, 0-5 O/U
  • Notable Wins: Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State
  • PS/G: 69 (237th)
  • PA/G: 70.6 (187th)
  • Off Rtg: 99.9 (217th)
  • Def Rtg: 102.1 (226th)

Key Players to Watch

Johnny Juzang led the way with 14.2 PPG to lead the team, and his production was needed once Chris Smith went down with a season-ending injury after just eight games played. Jules Bernard surprised with 19 points against Oregon State in the tourney loss, and if he can give UCLA something off the bench it would be a big help.

Aaron Henry was the only player to average double digits in scoring this season, going for 15.5 PPG while adding 5.5 RPG. He also dished out 3.5 APG to lead the team, as well as going for highs of 1.3 SPG and 1.3 BPG. He is a Swiss Army knife who Tom Izzo depends on to do it all. Joey Hauser, the former Marquette recruit, is the secondary source of scoring at 9.9 PPG.

  • UCLA - Tyger Campbell (10.5 PPG, 5.6 APG)
  • UCLA - Johnny Juzang (14 PPG, 4.1 RPG)
  • MSU - Aaron Henry (15.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.5 APG)
  • MSU - Joey Hauser (9.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG)

Michigan State enters its First Four game against UCLA going UNDER the point total in six straight games. (AP)

Head-to-Head - UCLA vs. Michigan State

It wasn't long since these teams met on the hardwood, facing each other Nov. 27, 2019 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Hawaii, a neutral-site court. Sparty came away with a 75-62 win and cover that evening. These teams also met Nov. 22, 2018 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, another neutral-site game, and Sparty rolled up an 87-67 win that day, too.

March Madness Records & Trends

UCLA Bruins

  • All-Time Record: 106-42
  • Last Appearance: 2018
  • Deepest Run: Champion (1995)

-- UCLA has won four of its last seven NCAA Tournament games.
-- UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 in three of its last six NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- UCLA has failed to cover the spread in 11 of its last 14 games.
-- UCLA has gone UNDER the point total in five of its last six games after going OVER the point total the game prior.  

Michigan State Spartans

  • All-Time Record: 69-32
  • Last Appearance: 2019
  • Deepest Run: Champion (2000)

-- Michigan State has won six of its last nine NCAA Tournament games.
-- Michigan State has failed to reach the Sweet 16 in three of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Michigan State has reached the Final Four in two of its last five NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Michigan State has been eliminated by a double-digit seeded school in two of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Michigan State has covered the spread in three straight games after failing to cover the spread the game prior.
-- Michigan State has gone UNDER the point total in six straight games.

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