We need not go into the story about how improbable the journey of the UCLA Bruins has been, except to say that if it results in two more victories, it might go down as one of the best underdog stories in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
But they’ve got quite an obstacle in front of them on Saturday night, as they take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who are trying to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to go all the way undefeated.
This Final Four game begins at 8:34 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It is televised by CBS, and BetOnline patrons can wager on this game with the “Live Betting” option at the top of the sportsbook interface. And don’t forget that you can partake in any of the dozens and dozens of props available.
NCAA Tournament – Final Four @ Indianapolis
UCLA BRUINS vs.GONZAGA BULLDOGS, 8:34 PM ET (CBS)
NCAA Tournament Odds: Gonzaga -14 (-115) / Total 145.5
Navigating their way through five opponents, including BYU, Alabama and Michigan, is no small thing for UCLA, which would become the only team to win seven games to capture the national title. They have performed well above their regular season standard in a number of areas, which include three-point shooting (37.8%) and even more dramatically, three-point defense (24.7%). Also, they have done an unbelievable job in taking care of the ball, committing only 36 turnovers (7.2 per game), with no more than eight in any contest.
Much of the credit for that has to go to Tyger Campbell, the point guard who has a 20-6 ratio of assists to six TO’s in the tournament thus far. But part of the potential problem for UCLA is that Campbell is not a good enough shooter to stretch out defenses, and inasmuch as Gonzaga doesn’t concern itself a lot with pure defensive pressure, they can probably direct their efforts somewhere else.
And primarily, that would be Johnny Juzang, the Kentucky transfer who has become a star in Indianapolis. Juzang has scored 29.6% of the Bruins’ points in this tourney, and that includes 28 of the 51 points UCLA tallied in their Elite Eight win over Michigan. We’d expect the ‘Zags to concentrate on him first, forcing the Bruins to find another outlet. Jules Bernard and Jaime Jaquez are both 39% shooters from downtown, but they have made only seven triples apiece in this tournament.
UCLA is going to have to pick its poison when it comes to dealing with Gonzaga’s offense. Drew Timme has had 75 points on 64% shooting in these last three games. And Corey Kispert is 50% from beyond the arc in the NCAA Tournament. You may already know that Gonzaga is best in the nation from two-point range (63.7%), and of course, that includes Jalen Suggs and his charges to the hoop. The Bulldogs are 40.4% from three-point territory in these last four games, so you can see the dilemma. This is an instance where UCLA could have used the services of frontcourt people Jalen Hill and Chris Smith, but alas, they’re not available.
It’s not a secret that the Bruins are going to try and reduce the number of possessions here. But we have seen where that approach did not have much success against Gonzaga, which, for example, took the team dead last in the nation in Adjusted Tempo (Virginia) and practically ran them out of the gym with 98 points.
Let’s see if UCLA finds a dependable scoring option aside from Juzang. And keep in mind that it is not unusual for the ‘Zags to win by margins, as they have won 29 of 30 games by double-digits. We respect what UCLA has done, but must lay the points anyway.
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