UCLA vs. Michigan Odds, Pick, & Preview For Tuesday’s Elite 8 NCAA Tournament Showdown
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Juwan Howard.
- The Michigan Wolverines. The UCLA Bruins. A spot in the Final Four on the line.
- Juwan Howard's Wolverines will look to end a dream season for Mick Cronin and the Bruins on Tuesday evening.
- Mike Randle explains why he thinks the Wolverines will cover below.
UCLA vs. Michigan Odds
No. 1 seed Michigan will face No. 11 seed UCLA for the right to go to the Final Four as the champion of the East Region.
The Wolverines have continued their dominance despite losing Isaiah Livers (13.1 PPG) to injury. Michigan defeated No. 16 Texas Southern, No. 8 LSU, and No. 4 Florida State by an average of 14 points per game.
The Bruins have continued their “First Four Magic” by defeating No. 11 Michigan State, No. 6 BYU, No. 14 Abilene Christian, and No. 2 Alabama. Their 88-78 OT win over the Crimson Tide in the Sweet 16 was the game of the tournament.
Michigan has elite metrics on both sides of the ball.
The Wolverines rank seventh in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. They shoot 38.3% from 3-point range, 53.9% from inside the arc, and a solid 77.4% from the free-throw line.
They also are incredibly balanced and not over-reliant on any one specific aspect of offense. Michigan has generated only 29.4% of its points from 3-point land and a modest 17.7% from the free-throw line. It’s managed to maintain its superb efficiency even in the absence of Isaiah Livers.
The key to the Wolverine offense has been center Hunter Dickinson. The 7-foot-1 freshman has been one of the best centers in the country and had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) in the 86-78 win over LSU. Dickinson’s incredible efficiency (60.2% shooting) has contributed to a Michigan offense that ranks 39th in the country from inside the arc.
Michigan head coach Juwan Howard surrounds Dickinson with fantastic perimeter scorers who are strong from 3-point range.
Seniors Eli Brooks (40%) and Mike Smith (42.1%), join sophomore Franz Wagner (35.7%) to provide superior long-distance accuracy. UCLA’s main defensive weakness is against the 3-ball, where it ranked 10th in the Pac-12 at defending beyond the arc (37.6% allowed).
The Wolverines received a huge boost from junior Brandon Johns Jr, who scored 14 points and added six rebounds against Florida State. At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, he adds another interior weapon to support Dickinson.
UCLA can match the Wolverines on offense statistically, ranking 11th in overall offensive efficiency, including 34th from beyond the arc (37.2%). The Bruins also limit their offensive turnovers, ranking 29th-best in the country.
UCLA’s offense is led by Johnny Juzang (15 PPG, 4.1 RPG) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (12.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG). Jaquez had a streak of seven single-digit scoring performances within 10 games from late January to mid-February. He has now found his scoring touch, averaging 16.7 points over UCLA’s four NCAA Tournament games.
With guards like Jacquez and point guard Tyger Campbell combining for 2.1 steals per game, the Bruins rely on their perimeter defense to limit opposing guards.
They stifled the Alabama perimeter game, holding the Crimson Tide to just 25% (7-of-28) from 3-point range while holding SEC Player of the Year Herb Jones to just eight total points. The Bruins also held Alabama leading-scorer Jaden Shackelford (14 PPG) to just four points with five turnovers.
The problem will come from trying to stop Dickinson, who is the type of dual-threat post player they haven’t seen all tournament. Michigan ranks 48th in average height, substantially bigger than Abilene Christian (339th), and has a much better consistent post scorer than anyone on Alabama.
Mick Cronin’s Bruins bring a strong defensive challenge, but the Wolverines just dismantled an elite Florida State defense. Michigan head coach Juwan Howard should be prepared to counter UCLA’s perimeter defense after brilliantly scoring at will against the Seminoles.
UCLA is 16-14 against the spread (ATS) and has covered every game in the tournament. However, Michigan is one of the best cover teams in college basketball at 19-8 overall, including four of its last five games.
Betting Analysis & Pick
UCLA head coach Mick Cronin has been a brilliant strategist throughout the tournament. But Michigan’s offensive versatility is his biggest test yet. It’s one I don’t think the Bruins will pass.
Michigan’s inside/outside balance and Howard’s game-planning will score too many points for UCLA to match.
It was a magical March run by Cronin and the Bruins, but I think it ends here with a comfortable Wolverines win.
Pick: Michigan -7 (up to -7.5).