#4 Seed - UCLA
The Bruins have been on a roll since the beginning of the month when they defeated Oregon State 74-69 but failed to get the cover in NCAA basketball odds. After that they have been a veritable ATM for their backers, winning and covering in six of their next seven games. But perhaps their biggest win of the season was the shocker over top rated Arizona when they captured the PAC-12 title as 5 ½ point neutral site underdogs.
After that stunner they dribbled right into the Big Dance as the number four seed in the South region which put them on a collision course with the number one seed in their bracket and the consensus number one team in the nation. But based on the way they have dispatched their opponents thus far, they may have a better chance than even the oddsmakers are giving them. UCLA blasted their opening round opponent Tulsa by a score of 76-59 and then came right out of the gate to do the same to their next victim, the upstart Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin University, and slammed their way to a 77-60 victory.
#1 Seed - Florida
It's a tall task to try and say anything negative about the 34-2 Florida Gators but since when have I shied away from a challenge? Yes, they devoured Pittsburgh 61-45 in their last trip to the hard court, cruising to an easy cover in college basketball odds as 5 ½ point favorites. However, in their previous two games they were far from dominant when they narrowly defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 61-60 to secure the SEC title and then plodded along against the University of Albany in their tournament opener yet ultimately prevailed by the score of 67-55 as 22-point favorites. Obviously those two games did not land them in good stead with the punters who backed the Gators but it may portend something about this game with UCLA.
This Florida team is built primarily on defense. Though their offense is serviceable it is far from prolific. However, their defense is ranked third in the nation and they average 6.2 steals per game. The Gators play a physical game down low and don't let up from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith barely edges senior center Patric Young in average rebounds per game (6.7 vs. 6.3) but Young joins Michael Frazier II, Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather as the only four Gators averaging double digits in scoring.
Free NCAA College Basketball Pick:
Here we have another example of a high octane offense going against an immoveable defense. UCLA owns the 12th ranked offense while Florida boasts the third ranked defense. UCLA is 4-1 ATS in their last five games when installed as underdogs. And what's better yet is they are peaking at the right time and have layers of depth. Of course Florida is stacked but the computer model shows Florida winning by just a click over two points. I am thinking upset here kids.
Play UCLA +4 ½ in your NCAA basketball picks but don't be surprised if UCLA gets the outright victory and stuns the world.