Gonzaga vs. UCLA Picks, Predictions, Odds

It's been pretty interesting to see how the narrative has shifted around the Gonzaga Bulldogs over the last couple decades. At first, they were a plucky upstart and were seen as college basketball's version of the Boise State Broncos. As they continued to make the NCAA Tournament and beat top-tier foes, they were given more respect as a perennial contender and portrayed as a juggernaut in their own right.

However, the public view has now turned negative as Mark Few and the Bulldogs are currently seen as underachievers that have never won a national title. This is the 11th time that the Bulldogs have been a top four seed over the past two decades, yet they have only been able to get to the national championship game twice and are 0-2 there. That perception is part of why the Zags are underdogs to the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and UCLA Bruins will meet in the final Sweet 16 game on Thursday, March 23, 2023. This West Region semifinal will tip off at 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Bulldogs are 10-0 SU in their last 10 games. (Getty)

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Prediction

If Jaylen Clark didn't tear his Achilles' heel in UCLA's regular season finale with Gonzaga, the Bruins would have been a very popular pick to win the national championship. UCLA was one of the best teams in the country this season, and they arguably should have been a No. 1 seed over Purdue. They didn't have much trouble in the first weekend of March Madness, and the Bruins should be able to use their excellent guard play to get past the Bulldogs and into the Elite Eight.

Best Bet: UCLA -2 (-110)
Score Prediction: UCLA 76, Gonzaga 71

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Resources

Date: Thursday, Mar. 23, 2023
TV-Time: CBS, 9:45 p.m. ET
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Expert Picks

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Stats

Gonzaga Bulldogs
SU: 30-5
ATS: 13-20-1
O/U: 20-14
PPG: 87.3
OPPG: 73.1

UCLA Bruins
SU: 31-5
ATS: 22-14
O/U: 18-18
PPG: 74.1
OPPG: 60.2

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS), Over-Under (O/U)
Points Per Game (PPG), Opponents Points Per Game (OPPG)

Updated on 06/02/2023
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Gonzaga Bulldogs Betting Preview

Drew Timme is looking to close out his collegiate career with a bang. Timme has done something we have seen less and less of from the game's elite players as time has passed, as he has spent four years with one program. He leads Gonzaga with 21.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 3.2 APG, and he is one of the most efficient scorers in the country. Timme is making 64.3% of his two-point attempts, and he was very good in the first weekend of March Madness. He had 49 points and eight offensive rebounds in his first two games while making almost 60% of his field goals.

Gonzaga's two-point shooting is the second-best in the nation because of Timme, but the three-point shooting is elite too. Malachi Smith is the nation's best perimeter shooter, as he is knocking down 50.6% of his threes while averaging 8.5 PPG. Julian Strawther is the second-leading scorer on Gonzaga with 15.3 PPG, and he is hitting 42.3% of his triples. Rasir Bolton is making 39.2% of his threes as well while scoring 10.5 PPG, to give this team three players that can light it up from range.

The issue with the Bulldogs this year has been their lack of defense. Gonzaga ranks 75th in defense per Ken Pomeroy, as the Zags are allowing opponents to make 35.1% of their threes and 51% of their two-point field goals. They don't force a lot of turnovers outside of Anton Watson, but the good news is they largely clean up the glass and don't send foes to the free throw line.

The Bruins are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. (Getty)

UCLA Bruins Betting Preview

The loss of Jaylen Clark is huge for the Bruins. Clark was arguably the best on-ball defender in the nation, and he ranked in the top ten nationally in steal percentage. Fortunately, the Bruins received good news about Freshman of the Year Adem Bona just before the start of the NCAA Tournament, as his March Madness status was in doubt too. Bona suffered a shoulder injury against Oregon and missed two games, but he was able to return against Northwestern last week. He didn't have much of an impact, yet the Bruins are hoping that another few days of rest will help Bona look like the defensive force he was during the regular season.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. is the leader of this team, and he was the first UCLA player to earn Pac 12 Player of the Year honors since Kevin Love. Jaquez is averaging 17.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG, and he is making 48.1% of his field goals as a gritty guard that likes to use his size to punish smaller opponents inside the perimeter. He is a superb rebounder for someone his size, but he does struggle with his perimeter shooting.

UCLA has the second-best defense in the country according to Pomeroy's numbers. Gonzaga shredded this defense two years ago in the Final Four and advanced to the national title game off a Jalen Suggs' buzzer beater in overtime, but the Bulldogs don't have near the same offensive talent this time. Mick Cronin's bunch forces turnovers on 23.4% of opponents' possessions, and the Bruins rank in the top 20 in defensive effective field goal percentage. If Bona can effectively contain Timme without help, the Bulldogs might really struggle to score.