We’ve made it to the Final Four with an 11 seed in the mix. UCLA has made a run from the First Four to the Final Four. Here are the best bets for Saturday’s college basketball, courtesy of SBR.
Houston Cougars vs. Baylor Bears
Saturday, April 03, 2021 – 05:14 PM EDT at Lucas Oil Stadium
Everyone wants to see a Gonzaga against Baylor match-up but Houston is looking to change that.
The Houston Cougars have won 11 straight games and still aren’t getting the love. They’ve held opponents to 55.8 points per game this season and have a top 10 defense per KenPom, holding opponents to a 43.3 percent effective field goal percentage. Houston’s offense isn’t fantastic but they get the job done because their defense limits so many points. The offense dominates on the offensive glass and nail just under 35 percent from three along with 49.2 percent inside.
The key in this game is Houston defending the three, so remember that when heading to sportsbooks. Baylor is first in the nation in threes this season, shooting 41.1 percent while Houston has defended the three very well, allowing opponents to hit just 29.2 percent from long range. The Cougars and Baylor are both fantastic teams at forcing turnovers. Baylor is third in the nation and Houston is 53rd but both offenses have taken care of the basketball this season, for the most part.
Baylor’s defense is one reason why Baylor could struggle to win this game against Houston. Baylor is 273rd in defensive rebounding this season while Houston is second in the nation in offensive rebounds. If Baylor struggles to force turnovers and doesn’t prevent second chances for Houston, Houston has a real chance at winning this game.
Baylor is shooting a 56.5 percent effective field goal percentage and also dominates the offensive glass but Houston isn’t nearly as bad on the defensive glass compared to Baylor this season. The Bears are worse at the line and don't defend nearly as good as Houston. Houston has allowed teams to shoot 29.2 percent from three but also 42.9 percent from inside, which is fifth in the nation.
On the other hand, teams are shooting 33 percent from three and 48.6 percent from inside against Baylor. Both numbers are above average but also around 125th in the league. It’s nothing spectacular. With that said, Houston has a legitimate chance at winning this game. They’ll have to win the rebounding battle, limit turnovers on offense and defend at a high rate like they’ve done all tournament. But let’s play it safe and take the points at online betting sites.
UCLA Bruins vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Saturday, April 03, 2021 - 08:34 PM EDT at Lucas Oil Stadium
The consensus is that Gonzaga can’t be beat. That’s likely true… unless they play Baylor or Houston. Then things might be different. But for now, Gonzaga looks like the easy favorite.
Gonzaga is 30-0 on the season and are two wins away from a perfect 32-0 season. They’d be talked about as the best team to ever play college basketball and would ultimately win Gonzaga’s first NCAA title. The final four spread on the college basketball lines is still so ridiculous. The public will be all over the Gonzaga spread but the sharps know better than to put money on a final four favorite at -15.
Gonzaga has the top offense in the league and it showed against USC. They are scoring 63.7 percent inside the arc and 37.1 percent from three. They’ve limited turnovers, won some balls on the offensive glass and get to the line at a solid pace.
Gonzaga isn’t the best defensively, but they get the job done. They’re allowing teams to shoot a 47 percent effective field goal percentage along with 31.9 percent from three and 46.5 percent from inside. The area they excel the most at is defensive rebounding. They’ve limited second chances in most games they’ve played which gives them a serious advantage.
But let’s not act like UCLA is an 11-seed anymore. They’re playing terrific basketball and are on the run of their lives. This run reminds me of Connecticut’s run with Kevin Ollie. UCLA is limiting turnovers, rebounding at a solid rate and knocking down shots (outside the game against Michigan). They’ve got a reliable point guard in Tyger Campbell and a premier scorer in Johnny Juzang.
But I’d be worried about UCLA’s defense. They shut down Michigan on a poor shooting night but will they be capable of stopping Gonzaga’s offense? Probably not. On the season, they allowed 49.9 percent effective field goal percentage and don’t force enough turnovers on defense.
Gonzaga should be a force inside but let’s not forget that UCLA has played in three overtime games in six games and almost had to play another one against Michigan. The Bruins are finding ways to stay in games whether it’s via offense or defense. A final four spread beyond 10 points is too much for me. I’m not making this official by any means but I’d roll with UCLA at this point.
CBB Pick: UCLA +14.5 (-110) via BetOnline
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.