The 11-seed UCLA Bruins (20-9) try to continue its run from First Four with a showdown against the 2-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (26-6) in the East Region semifinal. The winner of the semifinal matchup will play the Michigan vs. Florida State winner. Sunday’s tipoff is set for 7:15 p.m. EST inside Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. The contest will be televised on TBS. According to oddsmakers, Alabama is favored to advance to the Elite Eight as a 6.5-point favorite over the Bruins.
What to Know – UCLA Bruins
The Bruins are one of four Pac-12 teams in the field of 16. UCLA is the only team to have played three games to get here, with victories over Michigan State (86-80), BYU (73-62), and Abilene Christian (67-47). The Bruins are back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2017.
Offensively, UCLA pours in 73.1 points per game, behind 46.3% shooting from the floor and 37.4% from the field. The Bruins hold teams to 67.9 points per game on the defensive end, 43.7% from the field, and 34.2% from deep.
Sophomore guard Johnny Juzang continued his hot shooting in the tournament, leading the Bruins with 17 points in the Wildcats’ lopsided victory. UCLA shot 46.6% from the field and held Abilene Christian to 29.8% shooting and just 21.1% from the three-point line.
UCLA is 15-14 against the spread entering the second week of the tournament, with a 4-1 mark over their last five games. The Bruins are 3-4 ATS as an underdog and 4-2 in the neutral matchups.
What to Know – Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama returns to the Sweet 16 after a 17-year hiatus, last appearing in the second week in 2004. The Crimson Tide cruised in a pair of victories last weekend, defeating Iona (68-55) and Maryland (96-77). Alabama is carrying an eight-game winning streak into the contest.
The Crimson Tide is one of the country’s top-scoring teams, averaging 79.6 points per game on 43.1% shooting from the field and 35.1% from beyond the arc. Alabama’s defense surrenders 69.8 points per game and holds opponents to 40.5% shooting from the floor and 28.8 from three.
Sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford (21 points) and senior guard John Petty Jr. (20 points) paced a Crimson Tide offense that erupted for 96 points. Alabama shot 53% from the field and a sizzling 48.5% from the arc to put the Terrapins away and cruise to the round of 16.
Alabama is 18-13-1 ATS on the season with a 5-2 record in their last seven games. The Crimson Tide is an impressive 8-1-1 ATS in their last ten against Pac-12 opponents and 5-4 ATS in neutral site contests.
The Pick is In
All signs point to this contest being a shootout, especially if the Bruins continue to shoot well from deep. If UCLA can stay hot from deep, they can play the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s strength isn’t defense, but the Crimson Tide will create enough stops to run away with this game over the final five minutes of play.
The Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide -6.5