Gonzaga vs. UCLA Predictions - March Madness Final Four Picks
Gonzaga ranks 1st on offense and 5th on defense, per KenPom. UCLA ranks 13th on offense and 45th on defense. Gonzaga is the best team in basketball and are undefeated on the year. They have been crushing their tournament opponents winning by 43 points, 16 points, 18 points, and 19 points. They have not had a single digit win since December 2nd against West Virginia. UCLA has been the top Cinderella team of the tournament. From first four play in game to final four, it’s been a crazy run for the Bruins. Out of their 5 Tournament games, two have gone to OT and one was a 2 point win. Outside of their two OT games UCLA has yet to score more than 73 points. Gonzaga has scored 83 or more in every Tournament game thus far. These are contrasting styles. Gonzaga wants to get out and run in transition and are ranked 6th in Tempo. UCLA wants to slow it down and grind out games. They rank 338th in Tempo.
Statistically, Gonzaga holds advantages everywhere. Gonzaga ranks 38th in 3 point shooting %, 1st in 2 point shooting %, and 1st in Offense Effective FG %. UCLA is known for their tough defense under HC Mick Cronin. However, the Bruins rank 164th defending the 3, 158th defending the 2, and 166th in Defense Effective FG %. Gonzaga should have no problem scoring with every player they have being a legitimate threat to score. UCLA’s offense is all ran through Juzang, Bernard, and Jaquez. Lately, it’s been the Johnny Juzang show for UCLA and he has been unconscious shooting the ball from anywhere on the court. The problem for the Bruins is Gonzaga has the defense to stop Juzang. Gonzaga ranks 77th defending the 3, 55th defending the 2, and 41st in Defense Effective FG %. Gonzaga also holds an advantage on the boards. The Zags rank 83rd in Offense Rebounding %, and 18th in Defense Rebounding %. UCLA ranks 87th and 70th in these categories. I expect a lot of one and done trips for the Bruins.
Look, I get what UCLA is doing is impressive and a Cinderella story, but they have had a ton of luck along the way. Through their 5 tournament games, UCLA is shooting 37% from 3 while their opponents are shooting 24%. As I pointed out earlier, UCLA is ranked 164th defending the 3, so these splits don’t add up. UCLA has also been extremely lucky with opponents missing Free Throws. Alabama and Michigan combined to shoot 17-36 (47%) from the Free Throw line. UCLA won one of these games in OT and the other by 2 points. I expect Suggs, Kispert, and Timme to dominate this game on both ends of the floor. I also expect Gonzaga HC Mark Few to have a perfect defensive game plan to stop Johnny Juzang. If Juzang isn’t scoring for UCLA, I don’t think they will keep pace with the Zags. The play is Gonzaga -14.5 and I think the Zags could win this by 20+ points. Best of luck!
The Pick: Gonzaga -14 @ -115 (Click to bet)
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