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March 27, 2015

Picks will be posted at 1:00 PM ET on Saturday.

Take the UNDER 145 total points in UCLA vs. Gonzaga risking 3%

Gonzaga is one of the nation’s most consistent basketball programs and a great success story but one that is often overlooked because they may play in the smaller West Coast Conference. They have been an NCAA tournament regular with a coach that has stayed on board for more than a decade! Mark Few is a great head coach but he does have one glaring hole in his CV and that’s a trip to the Elite 8! The postseason exits for his teams have included five losses in the Sweet 16 or round of 32 as a top-four seed. This contest is also one that comes with a little bit of history as these two met back in 2006 when Gonzaga was a #2 seed. They lost a heartbreaker to UCLA 73-71 in this round in a game that led to star forward Adam Morrison to tears. Gonzaga has had two top-two seeds since that defeat, this one tonight and the team that lost to Wichita State in the round of 32 two years ago. This is their chance to make history for their coach and while they have a prolific offense, we believe it will be their defense that steals the show. 

For UCLA, they certainly have the offensive firepower to contend with the likes of Gonzaga; however their offensive display recently has been above the norm. Bryce Alford, while a very competent 3 pointer shooter has connected on 12 of 16 from beyond the arc! That is beyond impressive from the coach's son but far above his seasonal average and not something that can be continued. The Bruins' battle against UAB turned into a shootout and people are expecting the same in this matchup. Add in the fact that the last 5 games that Gonzaga has played in have all gone 'Over' and it is clear that the betting public is ready to blindly bet the 'Over' regardless of the number! This total has already had a more than an adequate adjustment from Vegas and is considerably higher than the two games these two squads played at the NCAA tournament earlier in March. 

It’s also worth recalling that both teams last played 5 days ago! That often leads to rusty starts from an offensive point of view. Having time off naturally means that players get much needed rest but it also causes them to fall somewhat out of shooting rhythm, making their shots often come up short or long. It also gives coaches extra time to prepare their defenses to limit the opposition. Struggling to score early in the game could  have an effect on whether the final score comes close to the posted total. We believe the value lies in the 'Under' in this matchup as everyone is expecting a very high-scoring affair but numerous factors point toward this number being just a bit too high.

There are few teams in the country that could survive a shootout with Gonzaga and UCLA coach Steve Alford knows that very well. Everyone saw how proficient and explosive the Bruins had been on their home court this season and yet it was the Zags that handed them their only home defeat this season! They have already experienced what Gonzaga brings to the table offensively and there is no doubt that Alford has come up with a game plan to better contain Wiltjer and Pangos in this one. They will be out for revenge  and  know the only way to pull off the upset is to defend better. We expect them to be more deliberate in their approach and try to limit the number of Gonzaga possessions which should result in a lower final score than most anticipate. Both teams have been extremely proficient from 3-point range and while we should see some sharp shooting from deep, we don’t expect them to continue to hit at the same abnormal rate that they have been. UCLA has not been nearly as proficient offensively on the road as they have been at home this season. They are averaging just 64 points away from Pauley Pavilion! UAB allowed the Bruins to get out and run and shoot while putting up little resistance, Gonzaga and their bigs will be a much stiffer test defensively tonight while Alford will have his troops better prepared than he did last time. 

While it will be tough to stop an offense as proficient as Gonzaga's for the full 40 minutes, we do believe the Bruins will do a better job in the early going of figuring out how to at least slow them down. Meanwhile we believe UCLA will have a hard time getting the ball inside which will result in them having to make a majority of their shots from the perimeter. Unless UCLA has another incredible shooting night and manages to hit an extremely high percentage of their shots, we find it hard to believe that they will crack the 70 point mark tonight. This game will likely be played in the low 140's or high 130's and unless some ridiculous fouls are called or some easy baskets are made when the game is already out of reach, we believe the final score will falls just a couple of points Under the 145 mark.  

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Only two UCLA games have gone 'Over' in their 15 games as underdogs!
  • The Under is 5-2 when UCLA seeks revenge for a home loss!
  • The Under is 18-7 when UCLA plays a team with a winning record!

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