Underdogs Eyeing All-Time Upset
It would be a huge upset if the Akron Zips got the better of the UCLA Bruins, but stranger things have happened in college basketball.
The Bruins’ winning run came to an end against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament title game while the Zips are riding an eight-game winning streak, so it’s an intriguing matchup.
NCAA basketball odds have the Bruins at -13½, so they’re expected to win, but the spread is right in the fun zone.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness Odds for Akron vs UCLA. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
Akron Zip-Lining into Tournament
When the Akron Zips lost consecutive games to Western Michigan and Northern Illinois in February, their chances of making the NCAAs looked slim.
However, fast-forward a month and they have rattled off eight consecutive wins. It has put them in contention to score a rare tournament win and beating the UCLA Bruins would be a momentous occasion.
Akron’s strength of schedule hasn’t been great, but that doesn’t always matter in knockout play. The Zips have shown an ability to cover betting spreads at the sportsbook, including seven of their last eight.
A 75-55 win over Kent State in the Mid-American Conference championship game puts them in good stead for Thursday’s matchup, so their confidence levels should be high. They are also 4-0 ATS in their last four games at neutral sites, which is another positive.
With an overall ATS record of 17-14, the Zips demand recognition in betting markets and getting +13½ points is a sizable head start, no matter how strong the opposition.
UCLA Momentum Stalled by Arizona
There is confidence with the UCLA Bruins in March Madness betting markets, so they’re expected to win their opening-round clash.
They couldn’t muster enough in their recent 84-76 loss to Arizona as two-point underdogs, but they covered the spread in four of their previous five games.
However, we’re not interested in if the Bruins can beat the Akron Zips. We’re interested in if the Bruins can cover the 13½-point spread, which isn’t a foregone conclusion.
Top-seeded teams have struggled to beat teams from the lesser-known conferences, like the Zips. If the Bruins want to make an impression and put fear in their future opponents, they’ll want to send a message against Akron.
Coach Mick Cronin said UCLA’s defense left a lot to be desired following the loss to Arizona.
“I thought Arizona was the tougher team down the stretch. That’s where the game was decided,” Cronin told ESPN. “They were more physical. Our defense left a lot to be desired, to say the very least.”
They are 17-14-1 ATS and 3-2 overall at neutral sites.
Akron vs UCLA Head-to-Head
This is the first meeting between the Akron Zips and UCLA Bruins.
Akron vs UCLA Game Information
- Game: Akron Zips (24-9) at UCLA Bruins (25-7)
- Location: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
- Day/Time: Thursday, 9:50 p.m. ET
- Streaming: TBS.com
- 2022 March Madness Bracket
Akron vs UCLA Betting Lines
Akron vs UCLA Prediction
It can be tough to bet against the raging-hot favorite, but college basketball lines favor the Akron Zips.
Even though they have beaten only moderate opposition, they have been playing excellently in the Mid-American Conference.
Beating Kent State by 20 points put the writing on the wall and the UCLA Bruins can’t afford to overlook them.
The Bruins are also coming off a tough loss to the No. 2 team in the nation, so they could take time to regain their confidence, which plays into the hands of the fast-starting Zips.
We would have taken the Zips at +12½, so it’s a value line for bettors and it could firm on game day.
Bookmakers have the total at 128½ and we’re picking the under to cash. It should be a low-scoring defensive battle.
Akron’s defense ranks 31st in the nation and UCLA’s ranks 45th, so it should result in a 66-58-type of score line.
Pick: Akron Zips +13½
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