The UCLA Bruins had one of the most dominant performances on the first day of March Madness, crushing UNC Asheville by a final score of 86-53.
Things won’t come as easy in the Round of 32 when they take on the No. 7 seed Northwestern Wildcats, who took down Boise State in the Round of 64.
Can UCLA continue to cruise as a favorite, or can Northwestern pull off the upset?
Let’s dive into the odds for the game and then I’ll give you my best bet.
Northwestern vs. UCLA odds, spread, and total
Northwestern vs. UCLA prediction and pick
This may come back to haunt me, but I have zero faith in Northwestern being able to keep up with UCLA, and I think they’re lucky to have faced a struggling Boise State team in the opening round.
The Wildcats are arguably the worst team in the NCAA Tournament, ranking 320th in the country in effective field goal percentage. Sure, the Wildcats are strong defensively, but you can’t last long in the “Big Dance” if you’re that bad of a shooting team.
Meanwhile, UCLA proved they can take care of business in the Round of 64. A lack of Jaylen Clark may hurt them defensively later on in the tournament, but they are fine without him for the time being.
One of UCLA’s biggest strength is creating extra scoring chances. The Bruins lead the country in extra scoring chances per game at +8.7, largely due to their offensive rebounding and ability to force turnovers.
If you have any concern of them covering the spread as favorites, just remember that they’re second in the country in average scoring margin at +14.2.
I’ll back the Bruins to win with margin in this Pac 12 vs. Big Ten showdown.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.