UCLA nearing another Final Four trip
This is a hard game to figure, especially with the uncertainty surrounding UCLA’s Jaime Jazquez Jr.
The teams have been “iffy” against top competition, with UCLA 5-4 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll while North Carolina is 3-4.
UCLA’s two wins away from its second consecutive trip to the Final Four, though this time around, the Bruins are far from the surprising 11-seed of a season ago. Such are the vagaries of the March Madness bracket.
UNC hasn’t played in a regional final in five years, but the Tar Heels are 13-2 in their last 15 regional semifinals, so that’s something for those who bet online to consider.
UCLA (+1500) has the eighth-lowest odds to win the national championship while North Carolina’s odds sit at +2800.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness Odds for North Carolina vs UCLA. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
North Carolina’s all-sophomore backcourt on display
There’s something to be said for not being predictable, especially at this time of year. H[owever, the North Carolina backcourt duo of R.J. Davis and Caleb Love take that to new heights.
In a first-round (East Region) win over Marquette, Love had 23 points, including six 3-pointers, while Davis managed only four points after missing nine of his 10 shots. He had 12 assists and only one turnover, however. Just two days later, the roles were reversed, with Davis going off for a season-best 30 points (five 3-pointers). Davis added five rebounds and six assists in the overtime win against top-seeded Baylor. Love had only five points in the game.
Both sophomores will look to be clicking at that same time, and that would put pressure on a UCLA team that, in the last two seasons, have shown how to win at this time of year. It’s already surpassed the March Madness predictions by getting this far.
North Carolina’s win against Baylor was something to behold, as the Tar Heels squandered a 25-point lead and lost key offensive contributor Brady Manek (ejected for a “flagrant” elbow). The Tar Heels regrouped in the extra session, winning-finally-by a score of 93-86. It was the first time since 2008 that the Tar Heels scored more than 90 points in back-to-back NCAA tourney games.
North Carolina is 6-1 against the Las Vegas odds in its last seven games.
Status of No. 2 scorer Jazquez a concern for UCLA
It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for UCLA from an injury standpoint.
Jules Bernard and Myles Johnson are the only Bruins to appear in every game. Johnny Juzang, Cody Riley and Jaylen Clark combined to miss 20, and now there are concerns about Jaime Jaquez Jr. He’s second on the Bruins in scoring (12.3 points per game), tops in rebounding (5.7) and second in assists (2.3).
Jaquez Jr. is questionable (ankle sprain), and while those associated with the UCLA program have seen Jaquez fight through the pain before, the prospect of trying to handle North Carolina’s relentless post player Armando Bacot is daunting.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. is listed as day to day with a sprained ankle.
But anyone who has watched him push through a bloodied face, a banged-up head and more expects him to be on the court against UNC on Friday.
“Trust me, if he can walk, he’ll play.”https://t.co/uoZv2LNZrg
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) March 21, 2022
Jaquez Jr.. has scored in double figures in his last 10 games. In two NCAA games he’s scored 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added eight assists. He’s also played at least 30 minutes in his last seven games.
UCLA is 8-4 against the college basketball spreads in its last 12 games.
North Carolina vs. UCLA Head-to-Head
This will be the fifth meeting between these storied programs since 2014. North Carolina has won each of those contests. UNC not only has a five-game winning streak in the series, but has covered in each. The most recent showdown came in 2019, with Carolina winning, 74-64, as a three-point favorite.
North Carolina holds a 10-3 advantage in the series. Surprisingly, the teams have only met twice in the NCAA tournament, with North Carolina winning, 88-81, in 1989 and UCLA topping UNC, 78-55, in the 1968 title game.
North Carolina is 5-2 against teams seeded fourth in the NCAA tournament, covering in each of those victories, including a 92-80 win over Butler in 2017.
North Carolina vs. UCLA Game Information
- Game: North Carolina (26-9) vs. UCLA (27-7)
- Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Day/Time: Friday, March 25th, 9:39 p.m. ET
- Live stream: TBS.com
- 2022 March Madness bracket
North Carolina vs. UCLA Betting Lines
North Carolina vs. UCLA Prediction
UCLA has shown the ability to pull out games at this time of year over the last two seasons, regardless of what the March Madness odds might say. Trying to slow down one of the top rebounding teams isn’t easy.
North Carolina showed its wares, blowing out Duke in retiring head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They disposed of the region’s top seed and defending national champions as well. With Jaquez Jr. hobbling with an ankle injury, perhaps this is the time for the Tar Heels to take that next step and continue their winning streak against UCLA.
In a tournament full of surprises, we are going with another, albeit a tepid one.
Pick: North Carolina (+115)
Pick: North Carolina +2 (-110)
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