The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Elite Eight will wrap up Tuesday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, so I’ve prepared the best UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan Wolverines betting pick along with the latest odds update on DraftKings Sportsbook.
The No. 1 Michigan is a 7-point fave with a total of 136.5 points at the moment, while the No. 11 UCLA is a +275 moneyline underdog. The Wolverines have won three of their last four encounters with the Bruins including the previous one in 2017 when they beat UCLA as a 6.5-point fave, 78-69.
The Bruins stunned Alabama in the previous round
The UCLA Bruins have already won four games this March Madness. They’ve started with an 86-80 overtime victory over Michigan State in the First Four matchup, and the Bruins played overtime once more in the Sweet 16 outlasting the No. 2 Alabama as 7-point underdogs, 88-78.
UCLA scored a whopping 23 points in overtime last Sunday, overcoming Alabama’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the regulation. The Bruins fought bravely and forced 14 turnovers, while sophomore guard Jaime Jaquez led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds, and three steals.
Although they rank outside of the top 180 in the country in both opponent field goal percentage and opponent 3-point percentage, the Bruins have played some solid defense over the last few weeks. On the other side of the ball, the Bruins lean heavily on their starting lineup, while six players finished the clash against Bama in double figures.
The Wolverines showed strength in a dominant win over Florida State
The Michigan Wolverines had no mercy in a 76-58 victory over the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles in the Sweet 16, dominating their opponents from start to finish. The Wolverines led by as many as 23 points while making 49.2% of their field goals and going 15-for-23 from the charity stripe.
Freshman center Hunter Dickinson accounted for 14 points, eight rebounds, and a couple of blocks, while sophomore guard Franz Wagner added 13 points, ten boards, and five assists. This duo leads the way for the Wolverines this term, combining for 27.0 points and 14.1 rebounds a night.
The Wolverines fell to the No. 4 in the latest KenPom rankings, but they are still the top-10 team in the nation on both sides of the ball. Michigan tallies 118.9 points per 100 possessions (7th) on 48.5% shooting from the field (19th) while surrendering 88.7 points in a return (8th) on 39.3% shooting from the field (14th).
- 7-11 ATS in the last 18 games overall
- 14-6 ATS in the last 20 games overall
- 5-1 ATS in the last six games as a fave of seven or fewer points
I underestimated the Wolverines’ offense in the previous round, as Michigan tortured the Seminoles for all 40 minutes, especially in the paint. Now, I’m looking for more of the same when the Wolverines take on UCLA’s solid defense.
The Bruins can switch almost everything, but they’ll struggle to cope with Hunter Dickinson in the paint. Michigan’s freshman star will be a key factor, as UCLA cannot play too narrow and leave open shots to the Wolverines who make 38.3% of their 3-pointers (14th in the nation).
Pick: Take Michigan -7.0 at -110
With both teams preferring to play at a slow pace, I’m opting with the under on the totals. Michigan averages 66.8 possessions per 40 minutes (247th), while UCLA records just 64.1 (337th).
The under is 13-5 in the Wolverines’ last 18 outings, and it is 7-4 in the Bruins’ last 11 showings as underdogs. UCLA has to play smart basketball, especially on the defensive end, and keep the Wolverines away of the rim. I’m a bit worries about Michigan’s prolific offense, but the Wolverines won’t rush things and will look to feed Dickinson at the low post.
Pick: Go under 136.5 points at -110