UCLA vs. Northwestern in March Madness: Betting odds, predictions

UCLA performed its regular model of smothering protection in a win over North Carolina Asheville within the first spherical. It’s no shock they bottled up a mid-major program to get March Madness began. However, the actual check begins in opposition to Northwestern. The Wildcats scored 75 factors in a first-round win in opposition to Boise State, and so they have legit firepower out of the backcourt.

With Jaylen Clark out for the Bruins, it’ll be attention-grabbing to see how UCLA’s protection holds up in opposition to higher competitors. Clark was among the finest defenders in faculty basketball, and he had the flexibility to verify guards and smaller wings. Without him, the Bruins don’t have the identical defensive versatility. He was additionally a dependable third offensive possibility.

Without Clark within the fold, the Bruins are going to have a more durable time defending Northwestern’s Boo Buie, Chase Audige and Ty Berry, who mixed to attain 55 factors in opposition to Boise State. UCLA has defensive perimeter choices, however Northwestern is deep with contributors and the Bruins being down one isn’t splendid.

Northwestern is 8-1 in opposition to the unfold when enjoying away from dwelling this season. The Wildcats aren’t going to be too uncomfortable on this neutral-court setting, and a few of their gunners may embrace the state of affairs. Buie is able to swinging a match recreation together with his skill to attain.

UCLA does have Jaime Jaquez Jr. to lean on, and his skill to execute within the mid-post space is a worthwhile security blanket for the Bruins. That’s one thing coach Mick Cronin can at all times depend on, and Northwestern doesn’t actually have large males that may guard him — or tire him out on the opposite finish of the ground. Jaquez’s skill to attain contained in the three-point line might make all of the distinction. Both groups prefer to play gradual, however UCLA is best at executing within the half court docket due to Jaquez’s endurance.

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Perhaps the Bruins’ skill to win grind-it-out video games will power Northwestern coach Chris Collins to open issues up extra. Northwestern might strive three-point photographs and hope for the most effective. They’re higher off doing one thing like that than enjoying to UCLA’s strengths. However, the oddsmakers set a low whole on this one, so a perimeter-shooting technique won’t be practical.

How to observe UCLA vs. Northwestern

When: Saturday, 5:40 p.m. PDT

Where: Sacramento

TV / Streaming: TNT / marchmadness.com; Paramount+

Odds for UCLA vs. Northwestern

Spread: UCLA -8

Total: 127.5

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