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UCLA vs. Michigan NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Picks

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UCLA vs. Michigan NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Picks
Head coach Juwan Howard speaks with the Michigan Wolverines during a timeout. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

The last member of the Final Four will be set when UCLA faces Michigan. The No. 11 seed UCLA will look to continue the Pac-12’s outstanding tournament run while Michigan tries to add another top seed to the group. Let’s take a look at the NCAAB odds and make a smart pick!

UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan Wolverines

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 – 9:57 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium

Two members of the Final Four were set on Monday, when No. 2 seed Houston and No. 1 seed Baylor advanced to the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament. When No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 6 USC finish their game to determine the third member of the group, UCLA and Michigan will round out the Final Four.

As a No. 11 seed, the Bruins are the lowest-seeded team remaining in the tournament. UCLA had to play in a First Four game, and if they knock off the Wolverines, they would become the second team ever to go from the First Four to the Final Four.

March Madness

The Bruins have won four straight since entering the tournament on a three-game losing streak. Their tournament run has included two overtime wins—over Michigan State and No. 2 Alabama—and two double-digit wins—over BYU and Abilene Christian.

Michigan is the Big Ten’s lone remaining representative in the tournament and has been for more than a week. The top seed in the East, the Wolverines are one of three one-seeds still competing and will look to crash a Gonzaga-Baylor showdown that is looking more and more preordained.

Michigan entered the tournament with three losses in five games but found its groove in March Madness, beating Texas Southern by 16, LSU by eight, and Florida State by 18.

Close Escapes

UCLA was nearly one and done in the tournament, trailing Michigan State by five late in the First Four game before rallying to force overtime. The Bruins then were on the other end of a dramatic end to regulation when Alabama hit a buzzer-beater to force overtime in the Sweet 16. The Bruins dominated both games in the extra five minutes to move on.

The Bruins’ run in the tournament has been fueled by a number of factors. UCLA has had four straight games with turnover rates below 13 percent on offense, after having just six such games all season long. The Bruins have also shot 40 percent from three in the tournament, five percentage points higher than a stretch run that included a 5-for-20 outing in a Pac-12 Tournament ending loss. The biggest factor in UCLA’s rebirth has been defense, though.

“Our defense is why we're alive,” coach Mick Cronin said. “And our defense is why we will survive.”

Mick Cronin
Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Life Without Livers

Michigan has put together its tournament run without its leader in minutes played and second-leading scorer. Isaiah Livers hurt his foot in the Big Ten Tournament and hasn’t played since. Originally ruled “out indefinitely,” things became more definite over the weekend. Prior to the Sweet 16 game, the school officially ruled Livers out for the season with a stress fracture.

Coach Juwan Howard told CBS “Our margin for error just got smaller.”

The senior also hit the most three-pointers on the team and had the highest shooting percentage from outside. Michigan didn’t miss him against Florida State, dominating the No. 4 seeded Seminoles, but the road to breaking up a Gonzaga-Baylor title game is definitely steeper than expected.

"Without Isaiah we have a weapon that is not out there," Franz Wagner said. "But I think we've seen all season that we have multiple guys that can score a lot of points, that are great shooters from the outside and are a threat defensively."

The Pick

This is a game that could turn into a rock fight. UCLA’s defense has been much improved in March, while Michigan’s has been outstanding all year long. The Wolverines are No. 6 in effective shooting defense, No. 12 in defensive efficiency, and have the size to defend the interior.

Michigan will also be one of the best shooting teams UCLA has faced, even without Livers. The Bruins’ defensive rebirth will certainly be tested in this game. The Wolverines have done it all year long and should be able to pull away to return to the Final Four. Take Michigan with the best betting sites.

NCAAB Pick: Michigan -7 (-105) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Michigan -7(-105)
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*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.