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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:45 PM

UCLA vs. Gonzaga Predictions, Odds, Preview


Apr. 3, 2021

NCAA BK Expert
VegasInsider.com

UCLA vs. Gonzaga Predictions

The second game of the Final Four goes off at approximately 8:34 p.m. ET, as No. 11 seed UCLA and top overall Gonzaga look to get to the championship game to face the winner of Baylor-Houston on Monday.

The Bruins are the underdog, but history says otherwise. In the eyes of many fans, they're the with the background and the history. Like their seed, UCLA has 11 national championships. Of course, they haven't won one since 1995.

Gonzaga is searching for its first-ever national championship after years of looking like a contender. The Bulldogs have been dominant this season, and they are just two victories away from becoming the eighth team in history to go undefeated to win the national championship. If they are able to finish off the next two games and do so, they would be the first team since Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers in 1976 to accomplish the feat.

The Bulldogs are 14-point favorites in this one, which is also rather historic. They're the largest favorite in the Final Four since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985.

Can head coach Mark Few's team avoid the disappointments of previous seasons?

UCLA might be an 11-seed, but they have ousted the likes of No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 2 seed Alabama, so they are certainly battle tested.

  • Score Prediction: Gonzaga 86 UCLA 71
  • Best Bets - Side: Gonzaga
  • Best Bets - Total: Over

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Handicapping UCLA vs. Gonzaga

UCLA likely wants to slow down the pace and keep Gonzaga from running their up-tempo style. They used a slow-down style to keep Michigan from running wild, and it worked in their upset victory in the Elite Eight. But Gonzaga is a different animal, and they head into this one not only on a 34-game winning streak since last losing Feb. 22, 2020 at BYU, but they have won 27 straight games by double digits since an 87-82 win on a neutral court against West Virginia back on Dec. 2.

For all of the Gonzaga haters who have wondered aloud who they have played, take a seat. They have a 12-point win over Kansas, a win over Auburn, West Virginia, Iowa and Virginia. Four of those teams were in the NCAA Tournament field, and they have certainly proved they are championship timber with four tournament wins by an average of 25.0 PPG in victories over Norfolk State, Oklahoma, Creighton and USC.

Not only have they won those games, but they're 4-0 ATS in the NCAA Tournament this season, too.

  • Matchup: Final Four - 11 vs. 1
  • Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Date: Apr. 3, 2021
  • Time-TV: 8:34 p.m. (ET) - CBS

It's the second straight Pac-12 matchup for the Bulldogs. They were expected to get a much bigger test from USC in the Elite Eight, but they pounded the Trojans 85-66 as nine-point favorites to easily punch its ticket to the Final Four. The offense gets all of the headlines for the Zags, but the defense has allowed just 64.3 PPG in their four NCAA Tournament games.

Gonzaga is looking for their fifth consecutive cover. They haven't covered five in a row since Jan. 9-25 last season, all games favored by 13 or more points, against San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, BYU and Pacific.

NCAA Tournament Betting Results

First Four: UCLA 86 Michigan State 80, UCLA +2.5, Over 134
1st Rd: UCLA 85 Colgate 68, UCLA -8.5, Under 161
2nd Rd: UCLA 68 Texas Tech 66, UCLA +2, Under 140.5
Sweet 16: UCLA 72 Oral Roberts 70, Oral Roberts +11.5, Under 157
Elite Eight: UCLA 51 Michigan 49, UCLA +6.5, Under 137

1st Rd: Gonzaga 79 Hartford 55, Hartford +25.5, Under 138.5
2nd Rd: Gonzaga 76 Wisconsin 63, Gonzaga -6.5, Over 136.5
Sweet 16: Gonzaga 62 Villanova 51, Gonzaga -7.5, Under 142.5
Elite Eight: Gonzaga 85 USC 66, Gonzaga -9.5, Under 153.5

Betting Stats & Analysis - UCLA

22-9 SU, 17-14 ATS, 17-14 O/U

The Bruins scratched out a 51-49 win against Michigan, which was ugly to most everyone outside of Los Angeles - and anyone holding an OVER ticket. It was a low-scoring, boring game, but the Bruins did exactly what they had to do. They slowed the tempo to a crawl, they played amazing defense and they were able to top the No. 1 seed to punch its unlikely ticket to the Final Four. Now, can they challenge Gonzaga?

UCLA has used outstanding defense to advance in this tournament. They have allowed 49 or fewer points to Michigan and Abilene Christian, and they threw a blanket on BYU, allowing just 62 points in their first-round win. Sure, they allowed 78 to Alabama in overtime, but that was still below the Tide's average of 79.6 PPG, so defense struck again.

It's rather surprising, too, as UCLA allowed 67.9 PPG to rank 108th in the nation, and they were 204th in field-goal percentage at 43.9, and they were 261st against three-pointers at 34.9%. Offensively they weren't anything special, either, going for just 72.6 PPG to rank 143rd, and they were 67th in field-goal percentage at 46.3. The Bruins weren't a great free-throw shooting team, either, going for 72.0% from the charity stripe.

The Bruins have gotten hot at the right time, however, and they're 5-0 ATS in the past five games, 5-0 ATS in the past five as an underdog, and 19-7-1 ATS in the previous 27 following a straight-up win. The UNDER is 6-2 across their past eight NCAA tournament games, although the OVER is 9-4 in their past 13 in the Big Dance as an underdog.

Betting Stats & Analysis - Gonzaga

30-0 SU, 16-12-2 ATS, 15-15 O/U

This has to be Gonzaga's year, right? It seems everything is breaking right for Gonzaga, as they streak in with hardly any tests since December. No one has really pushed them to the limit in the NCAA Tournament, and they should easily push past an 11-seed to get into the title game, right?

UCLA's defense might offer the largest challenge of the NCAA Tournament so far, but the Bulldogs are likely staring at their 35th consecutive victory, and 28th in a row by 10 or more points. This Zags team is special, and this might very well be the first time they hoist the national championship trophy.

Gonzaga averaged a ridiculous 92.9 PPG to rank No. 1 in the nation, and they were also tops with a 55.3% field-goal percentage. They were 'only' 36.1% from behind the arc, ranking 69th in the nation. The free-throw shooting is at just 73.2%, good for 93rd, but that would be a problem if their games were close, but they just haven't been.

As mentioned above, Gonzaga has stepped up the defense in the NCAA Tournament. Overall they allowed 69.3 PPG, which is good for just 149th overall, while they're just so-so against the three at 33.0%.

The OVER is 39-18 in Gonzaga's past 57 games dating back to last season, and 38-18 in the past 56 as a favorite. The OVER is also 12-5 in the past 17 neutral-site games for the Zags. However, the UNDER is 15-7 in the past 22 NCAA Tournament games.

Key Players to Watch

UCLA

UCLA has been led by Johnny Juzang, as he has posted 20.0 PPG with 3.3 RPG in six postseason games for the Bruins. He is one of three scorers in double digits in the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament, joined by Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jules Bernard. The latter also leads the team with 7.5 RPG in six postseason outings. When the game is on the line, look for the ball to be in the hands of Juzang, or Tyger Campbell, as both have hit over 81% of their free-throw attempts during the postseason. Juzang was a ridiculous 93.3% from the charity stripe during the regular season, too.

Gonzaga

Gonzaga has four players averaging double digits in the postseason, with Drew Timme, Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi each going for 13.8 PPG or more in the WCC Tournament and NCAA Tournament. They can hit you from the inside for points, from the outside, it just doesn't matter. They're difficult to defend since they're so versatile.

Ayayi has also grabbed 8.0 RPG during the postseason, and Suggs leads the way with 4.5 APG. Kispert and Timme are the big scorers, and they had a spirited battle in the regular season. Kispert ended up with 19.5 PPG to 18.9 PPG for Timme, but it's the latter leading the way in the postseason with 19.5 PPG to just 16.7 PPG for Kispert.

Head-to-Head - UCLA vs. Gonzaga

The last time these met was Dec. 12, 2015 in Spokane, with the Bruins coming away with a 71-66 win as eight-point underdogs as the UNDER (147) cashed that day. While it's important to list the result, it's mostly for fun. Only Few was on the sidelines that day, as all of these kids were in high school, and UCLA coach Mick Cronin was still with Cincinnati.


UCLA has been the most profitable team in this year's NCAA Tournament, going 5-0 straight up and against the spread in five games. (AP)


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