NCAA Basketball Picks: Minnesota vs. UCLA

David Lawrence

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:46 AM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013 11:46 AM UTC

Free sports betting picks for the NCAA Tournament matchup between Minnesota and UCLA. Where should bettor look for the best value for their NCAA Tournament picks in this second round matchup?

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and UCLA Bruins have coaches who have made the Final Four, yet could find themselves on the hot seat in the event of a loss in this game.

Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.

Minnesota can win because… 

If the Golden Gophers are going to win this round of 64 matchup, the biggest factor needs to be their superior athletic ability. Minnesota has by far the better selection of players who can get to the rim, such as Andre and Austin Hollins (who are not related, by the way). Using athletic skill to overpower their opponents is going to one of the most important keys to winning this game for the Gophers.

People making their NCAA basketball picks should note that the other factor is going to be a lot like the first, except it's all about one player, Trevor Mbakwe, and his ability to get the job done on the boards over the course of this game. Mbakwe will have to be a scoring factor here, not just a rebounding presence, or the Gophers might not have enough point production on a team like the Bruins. The last thing to think about is defense, and nobody has ever accused a team coached by Tubby Smith of playing too weakly on that side of the court. Minnesota sometimes struggles with three-point field goal defense, but for the most part, this side of the floor has remained solid. The Gophers have had small lapses from time to time, but overall, the man-to-man defense of this team with an occasional two-three zone can confuse other teams. 

UCLA can win because…
 One also has to point out that UCLA's 6-5 tweener guard, Jordan Adams, was injured for the remainder of the season in Friday's Pac-12 Tournament game against Arizona. Adams was a vital cog for this team, which then lost the Pac-12 Tournament final to Oregon without his presence on the floor. Having to adjust to an injury is doable, but UCLA might not have enough time to find the rotation of players and substitutions it needs to be effective on the floor in this game. 

The Shabazz Muhammad is going to be a one-and-done player for sure and there is a good reason why: he can score in bunches and from many places on the floor, mostly because he does a great job of getting to the rim. If he can accomplish this during the course of the game, UCLA's chances of winning will increase exponentially. The other important factor for the Bruins is they need to attack the ball because Minnesota has had big problems with turnovers this season and this lack of ball control has led to more than one close loss for the Golden Gophers in Big Ten play. UCLA should try to take advantage of this every chance it gets. 

Who will step up for this team as a role player? On the Bruins there are a lot of players that can score in double figures, such as Travis Ware or Kyle Anderson, but they don't always do so. If they can answer the call, this will be a big key for them, not only in this matchup but as the NCAA tournament goes on as well. This is especially the case because of the loss of Jordan Adams. The play of point guard Larry Drew has been a stabilizing force over the course of the season for the Bruins. If Drew plays a big game, UCLA can survive its lack of depth. 

One also has to mention how disappointing Minnesota has been this season. The Golden Gophers looked like a top-15 team in early January but they cratered over the past two months, losing 11 of their last 16 games. UCLA knows Minnesota lacks confidence – even if they are favored on the college basketball odds boards. Any scoring run from a neutral position on the scoreboard (as opposed to being down by 20 points, of course) will test Minnesota's resolve. 

Outlook & Prediction: 

If you’re making your sports picks for this game, expect it to be a very tight game not because these teams are excellent, but because they are so flawed. Minnesota is a psychologically frail team, and UCLA is an injured team with very few bodies on hand. The wisdom of experience suggest that it is easier to play with physical wounds than mental ones. UCLA might lack depth, but Minnesota lacks composure, and at tournament time, you would rather have composure than depth if you had to choose between the two. UCLA is therefore the choice in what should be a one-basket contest.

Free Sports Pick: UCLA +3 at SportsInteraction

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