The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the No. 2 UCLA Bruins on Tuesday night in a rematch of last season’s classic national semifinal contest. The opening tip of this one is scheduled for 10 p.m, ET at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Bulldogs romped to their fifth straight win on Monday night, topping Central Michigan 107-54 in Las Vegas. Gonzaga (5-0) has won all five of its contests by double-digits, with the closest being a 12-point victory over then-No. 5 Texas.
The Bruins have also gotten off to a fast start, winning their first five, including a 75-62 win over Bellarmine on Monday night. UCLA (5-0) has also been rarely challenged, with its closest victory being an overtime win over Villanova on Nov. 12.
If you want to bet online on this contest, the college basketball lines have Gonzaga as a seven-point favorite, with the over/under set at 156. If you want to make a moneyline bet, you can get the Bulldogs at -285 while the Bruins are listed at +245.
Gonzaga vs. UCLA
The Bulldogs are loaded yet again, with All-American Drew Timme leading the way. But even when Timme has an off-night, as he did Monday with just 11 points, there are others who can pick up the slack. Freshman forward Chet Holmgren had 19 points to pace the Bulldogs, becoming the third player to lead the team in scoring through five games.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about our team, anybody can step up,” Holmgren said after Monday’s win. “We’re real deep, we got a lot of great players on this team. It’s not gonna be one person’s night every single night. We kind of feed off that we look to each other to get each other going. We have a lot of great players, so that works out really well.”
Holmgren, at 7-foot-1, provides plenty of length in the paint for the Bulldogs, averaging 12.8 points as well as team-high averages in rebounds (6.8) and blocks (3.4). Teamed with the 6-10 Timme, Holmgren gives Gonzaga a height advantage against most opponents.
Timme is averaging a team-best 18.8 points and will surely step up his offensive game against the Bruins. The junior is shooting 67.3 percent from the field.
Guard Julian Strawther provides perimeter scoring, averaging 14.8 points and shooting 52.2 percent from three-point range. He’ll also have to bring some strong perimeter defense against some of the Bruins’ better scorers.
The Bruins were the darlings of the NCAA Tournament last season, nearly beating the March Madness odds and knocking off the Bulldogs in the national semifinals before falling on a last-second three-pointer in overtime by Jalen Suggs. UCLA is determined to take that next step of reaching the championship game and winning a national title.
Guard Johnny Juzang has returned and lived up to his preseason billing, averaging 19.8 points and 4.2 rebounds to lead the Bruins. Juzang is coming off a season-low 13 points in Monday’s win over Bellarmine, but he’ll be primed to have a big game in the rematch with the Bulldogs.
Fellow guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. is also playing well, scoring 15.6 points while leading UCLA with 7.6 rebounds per contest. At 6-7, Jaquez doesn’t have the height to match the Bulldogs’ front line, but he’s shown in the past that he can get to the boards against bigger opponents.
UCLA’s top seven scorers are guards, so the Bruins have to be able to win the battle of the perimeter against the Bulldogs. Getting out and running for easy baskets rather than facing Gonzaga in the half-court will be key to the team’s success in this one.
Gonzaga Wins Close One
The Bulldogs lost Suggs and Corey Kispert from last season’s national runner-up, but coach Mark Few still has plenty of talent on this squad. Gonzaga’s size inside will eventually wear down the Bruins to get the Bulldogs the victory, but we like UCLA to keep this one close to the end.
When doing your college basketball betting, take the Bruins to at least cover as an underdog in this matchup.