The UCLA Bruins are making their 19th Final Four, in pursuit of their 12th national championship in program history. UCLA is college basketball royalty… and yet the Bruins are one of the largest underdogs in the history of the Final Four.
This is because the Bruins are a No. 11 seed, becoming the second team to go from the First Four to the Final Four, winning five games (not four) in the NCAA Tournament to reach this grand stage.
This is also because the Gonzaga Bulldogs are a juggernaut two wins from becoming the first unbeaten Division I men’s college basketball champion since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1975-76. Will UCLA stand in the way of history? Let’s take a closer look at this online betting matchup.
UCLA Bruins vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Date: Saturday, April 3, 2021 – 8:34 p.m. ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
NCAAB Odds: Gonzaga -14
The Bruins did not play great defense during the regular season, but they have definitely defended well in the NCAA Tournament.
They held a strong Alabama offense under 70 points in regulation time and then beat the Crimson Tide in overtime in the Sweet 16.
They took on a high-powered Michigan team that largely dominated the Big Ten this season and held the Wolverines to just 49 points in the Elite Eight, punching their ticket to the Final Four.
The Bruins bonded as a team after their First Four win over Michigan State. That win not only advanced the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament; it also snapped a four-game losing streak in which UCLA lost late leads and didn’t show the toughness needed to finish games.
UCLA abruptly turned around and discovered how to play the right way. The Bruins are competing with so much more intensity and focus than they did in late February and the first week of March. Coach Mick Cronin has finally gotten this UCLA team to play the way he wants it to play. That has made a world of difference.
With Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez hitting clutch shots, UCLA has had enough offense to complement its stellar postseason defense. All the pieces have come together for this team.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are a force of nature, and clearly college basketball’s best team this season. This doesn’t guarantee they will win the national title, but it means they will be favored to do so.
The Zags have won four NCAA Tournament games – over Norfolk State, Oklahoma, Creighton, and USC – by an average of over 20 points. Gonzaga has won each of its games in March by at least 16 points.
This team is locked in and drilling everyone it faces. The Zags are so good because they have elite players who are willing to give up the ball to a teammate in order to create the best shot or the most favorable matchup.
No one cares who gets the credit, as long as the team wins. Drew Timme, Jalen Suggs, and Corey Kispert are all top-tier players in college basketball, but what makes them so good is their unselfish passing and constant movement without the ball.
Gonzaga breaks down defenses and has high-IQ players who consistently make the right reads and adjustments. No one has been able to stand in the way of this fully polished and seamless offense, which is averaging over 90 points per game and has scored at least 83 in every NCAA Tournament game thus far. They’ll win and cover in the sportsbook.
Prediction: Gonzaga Bulldogs 91, UCLA Bruins 69
Play: Gonzaga Bulldogs -14