The late game of the NCAA Tournaments Final Four features the No. 11 seed UCLA Bruins and the No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga is coming off an absolutely dominant performance over the USC Trojans 85-66, and from the tip, they were in control. UCLA started the tournament as one of the First Four and are now playing for a chance to compete in the National Championship. The Bruins are the second team since the field expanded to 68 to go from First Four to Final Four and are the fifth No. 11 seed to make the national semifinals.
Some history is looking to be made in this contest between Gonzaga and UCLA as the Bulldogs are 14 point favorites. This is the biggest point spread in the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams dating back to 1985.
UCLA Bruins Preview
The Bruins come into the Final Four, having faced one of the hardest paths of the four remaining teams. The last team to go from First Four to Final Four was VCU in 2011, but that Cinderella run ended, and UCLA is looking to keep it going. The Bruins took down Michigan State in the play-in, followed by BYU in the first round, and upsets over No. 2 seed Alabama and No. 1 seed Michigan to advance out of the East Region.
The Bruins play a gritty, defense-oriented style of basketball led by coach Mick Cronin and are led on the offensive end by Johnny Juzang, who is averaging 15.4 points per game.
The Bruins are led by exceptional guard play but lack any kind of inside presence. Cody Riley is the primary frontcourt option on both ends of the floor, but after him, their depth is very concerning. Jalen Hill left the team midway through the year to handle personal reasons. None of the bigs UCLA has offers the size that USC presented for Gonzaga, so Drew Timmie could have his way in this game, especially if Riley struggles to stay out of foul trouble.
UCLA plays a slow-paced, grind-it-out style of game. This helped the Bruins surge past Michigan, winning 51-49 in the Elite Eight, and this will be a key to hang with Gonzaga.
Gonzaga Bulldogs Preview
Gonzaga is looking to make college basketball history by becoming the first team to unbeaten through the regular season and NCAA tournament since Indiana in 1976. Gonzaga has earned all these wins, as just two opponents have finished just 11 points of them at the final outcome.
Gonzaga is not only great, but they are nearly unstoppable, and head coach Mark Few has done a fantastic job building culture over the last two decades. The Bulldogs’ annihilation of USC puts them two wins shy of making sports history. A lot of chatter that this might be the greatest college basketball team of all time, and with two more wins, they are forcing that discussion.
This is an electric offense that averages 91.8 points per game, the most of any team in the country. They are efficient and push the pace, and can keep up with any kind of defense thrown at them.
Corey Kispert has not had an overall great tournament, but he leads the team in scoring at 19 points, followed by Drew Timmie at 18.9 points and 7.2 rebounds. Timmie has been a force in the teams’ tournament run and has scored a combined 45 points over the last two games. He is one of the premier players in college basketball and is one of the several pro prospects on the roster.
UCLA vs. Gonzaga Betting Lines & Odds
Offshore sites have Bulldogs as -14 point favorites in this game. Gonzaga has been in cruise control up until this point of the men’s tournament. UCLA is going to have to try their best to limit the Zags possessions and keep control of the pace. Getting into a shoot-out could spell trouble for the Bruins, as Gonzaga can beat you in a variety of ways. Drew Timmie should have a night against the lack of depth and bodies that the Bruins can throw at him. Gonzaga stays perfect and gets a date with the winner of Houston or Baylor.
Free Betting Pick: Gonzaga Bulldogs -14