We’ll be examining the third round game in the South Region on Saturday between UAB and UCLA. Our insightful betting preview article on this contest covers all the bases, and it concludes with a totals selection.
Two Double Digit Seeds meet in Louisville on Saturday
A couple of teams that are coming off second round upsets on will square off on Saturday when #11 seed UCLA (21-13) meets #14 seed UAB (20-15). This third round game in the South Region takes place at Louisville, Kentucky with the opening tip scheduled for 3:10 PM ET. According to the NCAA Tournament odds at BetOnline, UCLA is a 7.0 point favorite, and the posted total is 130.0.
Huge Upset by the Blazers
The UAB Blazers entered their second round game on Thursday as a large 14.0 point underdog versus the Big 12 champion Iowa State Cyclones. UAB put forth a dominating defensive and rebounding effort to come away with a stunning 60-59 win. The Blazers will be advancing to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. UAB held a mammoth 51-34 advantage on the glass versus the Cyclones, and was able to overcompensate for a poor shooting performance (34.8%) by collecting 18 offensive rebounds. They also held a dynamic scoring opponent (Iowa St.) to just 59-points and 36.9% shooting from the field.
Roller Coaster of Emotions for Bruins in Second Round Win
The UCLA Bruins seem to have the game well under control on Thursday when they opened up a 44-34 second half lead versus SMU. Then they proceeded to go scoreless for over eight minutes, and allowed the Mustangs to go on a 19-0 run, putting them in 53-44 hole with just over four minutes to play in the game. They call this time of year “March Madness” for a reason. The Bruins were able to overcome a 59-52 deficit with only 1:26 to play, scoring the final 8-points of the game, and coming away with a thrilling 60-59 win. The final margin of victory was the result of a controversial goaltending call on a three-point shot which was clearly off line. In any event, the Bruins survived, and advanced which is all that matters at this time of the year.
UCLA continued its trend of low scoring games when playing anywhere besides the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. They’ve now gone under the total in fourteen of seventeen games in that role. The Bruins are averaging just 62.6 points per game in those contests, and that’s eighteen points less than what they’ve averaged at home.
The UAB Blazers have been very limited offensively this season, but they’re a strong rebounding team, and that has masked some other deficiencies. The Blazers play on the defensive end of the floor was an integral part of them winning the Conference USA Tournament, and also played a key role in their shocking win over Iowa State. They’ll need a similar type of performance versus UCLA in order to have a realistic opportunity to advance.
This game has the ear marks of a low scoring affair, and that’s where my lean will be when making my NCAA tournament pick for Saturday.
NCAA Tournament Pick: UAB and UCLA to go under the total of 130.0 at BetOnline.