UCLA’s dream of a second Final Four appearance in three seasons begins on Thursday night in Sacramento against UNC Asheville.
The Bruins will look to dispose of the Big South Conference tournament winners on Thursday night to start their NCAA Tournament run, and oddsmakers are prepared for it as UCLA is the biggest favorite of all the No. 2 seeds in the first round.
Mick Cronin’s group have been battling injuries over the last few weeks, but should have little issue taking care of business against the Bulldogs, but can they cover the massive spread.
Here are the odds for the West Region’s 2/15 matchup:
UNC Asheville vs. UCLA odds, spread and total
UNC Asheville vs. UCLA prediction and pick
While there are plenty of questions around the depth of the Bruins with Jaylen Clark going to miss the entire NCAA Tournament and Adem Bona’s status in doubt, there should be little issue in the first round against the Bulldogs.
UNC-Asheville is a proficient offense that is top 10 in the country in three-point percentage, but there are plenty of questions if it will hold up against the No. 1 adjusted defense per KenPom. UCLA should rip the ball out of the hands of the inconsistent Bulldogs backcourt that is 298th in turnover margin.
If shots aren’t falling for the No. 15 seed I struggle to see them scoring a competitive amount to stay within the number. However, I don’t expect UCLA to run this score up, leading me to the under in this first round matchup.
There are plenty of questions around the depth of the Bruins and I can see Cronin pulling his starters early with the game in hand and look to try and build some momentum for seldom used bench players that may be needed down the stretch of the tourney. The Bruins play at a methodical tempo, 232nd in adjusted tempo per KenPom, and take three-point shots at a bottom 30 rate.
The under is my favorite look in this one.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.