UCLA vs Gonzaga Odds, Picks & Predictions: The ML Bet to Make
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Watson (Gonzaga)
UCLA vs Gonzaga Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Sweet 16 is here and with it comes an exceptional West Coast matchup between Gonzaga and UCLA.
This will be the second straight Sweet 16 appearance for Mark Few’s Bulldogs, who were outlasted by Arkansas a year ago.
Gonzaga is once again led by the stellar play of center Drew Timme on both ends of the floor. The All-American big man has turned in back-to-back 20-point performances to get the Bulldogs to this point.
On the other side, Mick Cronin and UCLA have overcome what has become an extensive injury list in order to reach their third Sweet 16 in a row.
On top of the Bruins losing star freshman Jaylen Clark to an Achilles injury, UCLA is also dealing with the ever-changing health status of F David Singleton, and C Adem Bona.
In the closing minutes of UCLA’s Round of 32 victory over Northwestern, Singleton went down with what appeared to be a pretty serious ankle injury. As this week has progressed, there have been increasing rumors Singleton will be ready to play come Thursday night.
Here’s David Singleton and based on this he wasn’t kidding after the Northwestern game when he said “I’m fine.” pic.twitter.com/Pdd8ZE5EEn
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) March 21, 2023
Similarly, Bona has missed two of the Bruins’ last three contests with a shoulder injury, but there’s little information circulating regarding his condition.
When asked about both Singleton and Bona, Cronin simply stated, “Both great guys, that’s all I gotta say on that.”
Even given the potentially depleted roster for the Bruins, this is still slated to be a highly entertaining matchup between Gonzaga’s explosive offense and a UCLA defense that’s allowing just 60.2 points per game.
To pick which team will advance to the Elite 8, let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for Gonzaga vs. UCLA.
Given the potential injury status of both Singleton and Bona, the Bruins will need to rely on seniors Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell, as they have done for the majority of the season.
This experienced due has played nearly 80% of UCLA’s total minutes and are used on nearly 25% of the Bruins’ possessions.
During most of these possessions, Jaquez and Campbell use their own version of the pick-and-roll to create mismatches. As a result, UCLA ranks fourth nationally in pick-and-roll frequency.
This dependence on the pick-and-roll should be an advantage for a Gonzaga defense that can use its size and length to switch at nearly every position.
Gonzaga ranks 51st nationally in average height, compared to just 198th for UCLA.
In particular, Gonzaga’s Anton Watson could limit the stellar play of Jaquez. At 6-foot-8, Watson ranked second in the WCC in steal percentage at 3.6%.
Bulldogs are up 34 and Anton Watson, a senior starter, dives across the floor to gain possession.
"Glue guy." pic.twitter.com/hkTQdNebM0
— Justin Reed (@JustinReed99) March 8, 2023
Lastly, I love the matchup for Gonzaga from a tempo perspective. UCLA has often supplemented its offense through transition. The Bruins rank 16th nationally in transition frequency.
Gonzaga should be able to stick with the Bruins in transition, as it ranks 40th nationally in Adjusted Tempo.
Look for a limited UCLA roster to rely heavily on its two stars in the pick-and-roll, a strategy that a long and athletic Gonzaga defense will gladly match up against.
Although Gonzaga has had one of the most potent offenses in the country, it will have have an interesting matchup against a UCLA defense that ranks second nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
The Bulldogs have climbed to the No. 1 ranked offense in terms of Adjusted Efficiency through their ability to push the pace in order to get favorable matchups in the half-court.
The Bulldogs rank inside the top 35 in post-up and isolation frequency on the offensive end. This has resulted in Gonzaga ranking 27th nationally in half-court offensive efficiency.
Gonzaga has been able to get these favorable matchups in isolation through the pick-and-roll. The Bulldogs rank 32nd nationally in pick-and-roll efficiency, which will be important to implement against a UCLA defense that’s outside the top 200 against it.
Gonzaga put up a huge win over a tough Alabama squad.
The Crimson Tide rank in the top-20 in SQ points allowed at the rim (1.03 PPP), but the Bulldogs kept finding good looks via their pick-and-roll offense.
Star of the night: Anton Watson with 17 points and 3 big dunks. pic.twitter.com/woVuj4hhhO
— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) December 19, 2022
In addition, Gonzaga will look to match this pick-and-roll offense with kick outs to outside shooters. The Bulldogs rank 35th nationally on Catch & Shoot 3 efficiency.
Look for Gonzaga to be able to find these open shooters against a UCLA defense that ranks 264th nationally when defending Catch & Shoot 3s.
One of the ways UCLA has supplemented its offense is through its ability to create pressure defensively. The Bruins rank 11th nationally in turnover percentage and 15th in steal percentage.
This ball pressure has resulted in UCLA ranking seventh nationally in potential quick points off breakaway steals, according to Haslametrics.
However, I expect a Gonzaga offense — that has the 12th-lowest turnover rate in the country — to be able to handle the pressure Cronin’s defense will look to create.
It’s no question Gonzaga will find favorable matchups on the offensive end, but in order to pull off the upset, it will need to string together stops against a UCLA offense hampered by injuries.
UCLA vs Gonzaga Betting Pick
This is an interesting game to handicap, particularly from UCLA’s injury perspective.
It’s unlikely we know anything for certain regarding Singleton and Bona’s status before tip-off.
With that being said, I still believe there will be lingering effects for a team that already ranks 237th nationally in bench minutes.
Offensively, I like Gonzaga’s ability to be able to push the pace and get Timme in isolation, thus opening up shots on the perimeter.
Likewise, Gonzaga shouldn’t allow UCLA to get anything easy in transition and will be more than equipped to defend the Bruins in the pick-and-roll.
I like Gonzaga to pull off the upset, even if UCLA is at somewhat full strength.
Pick: Gonzaga ML +115
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