The first round of March Madness is concluded, and there were certainly some exciting matchups. The East Regional had one of the most stunning upsets as Saint Peter’s took out the number two seed in Kentucky. That was just one of the many exciting games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We expect that kind of excitement to unfold once again as the second round plays out over the weekend. Tonight the most exciting game should be from the East Regional as UCLA and Saint Mary’s face off.
The first round of the playoffs was routine for Saint Mary’s as they easily dispatched the 12th seed in Indiana. They won by the score of 82-53 and were never challenged. However, UCLA needed to dig deep to ensure a victory over Akron. They won by a score of 57-53, and they really needed to fend off Akron in the final minutes. That being said, the result is the same for both teams as they get set to face each other tonight in Philadelphia.
It should be an exciting game tonight, and a great preview for what is to come in the upcoming rounds.
UCLA vs Saint Mary’s Odds
Whenever two closely ranked teams play each other, you should expect close odds. That is what you get here, at least when you place your bets with DraftKings Sportsbook.
- Spread: UCLA -2.5 Saint Mary’s +2.5
- Total: UCLA U 126.5 Saint Mary’s O 126.5
- Money Line: UCLA -150 Saint Mary’s +130
There is very little separating these two teams, and as a result, it’s difficult to gauge which team will perform better tonight. As a result, your bets might come down to personal feelings.
UCLA Betting Outlook
UCLA comes into the game as the favorite on paper and with the oddsmakers. They had a phenomenal season, finishing second in the Pac-12 Conference both in the regular season and playoffs. While they faltered in early February, losing three of four games, they finished the season on a 6-1 run. They also put up a fight against Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. That being said, they were nearly defeated by Akron, a team that is one of the worst on paper in the NCAA Tournament. As a result, betting on UCLA might not make a lot of sense here. They could certainly win, but at -150 odds, the risk might not be worth the reward.
However, when it comes to the spread, you can bet on the side of whichever team you think is going to win the game. Set at -2.5 for UCLA, if you believe in them, you should bet the spread instead of the money line.
The total is set at 126.5 which is low, even for a college basketball game. That being said, these are two elite defensive teams, and as a result, if there was ever a game to bet the under, it’s this one.
Saint Mary’s Betting Outlook
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, Saint Mary’s was on a tremendous run of form. The last time they lost to a team that wasn’t Gonzaga was February 8th, and before that, it was January 8th. As a result, many pundits have them as a dark horse to go on a deep run in the East Regional. That faith was enhanced on Thursday when UCLA destroyed Indiana 82-53. Indiana was underrated as a 12th seed, but that didn’t seem to matter to UCLA as they dismantled them. With that in mind, placing a bet on Saint Mary’s to win with +130 odds makes a lot of sense.
UCLA vs Saint Mary’s Prediction
UCLA is the 4th seed and Saint Mary’s is the 5th seed in the East Regional. As a result, there is no reason to expect anything but a close matchup between these teams. UCLA comes from the Pac-12 Conference where they placed 2nd in the regular season. They also placed 2nd in the Pac-12 Tournament, falling to Arizona in the championship game. Saint Mary’s comes from the West Coast Conference, and they also placed second. Additionally, they were the runner-up in their conference tournament, losing to Gonzaga in the final.
While both teams entered the NCAA Tournament in good form, there were more doubts surrounding UCLA. They lost four times in February, including once to Arizona State. Conversely, the only team Saint Mary’s has lost to lately is the number one team in the nation. Additionally, Saint Mary’s had a much more impressive showing in the first round of the tournament, defeating a better team by a wider margin.
However, the advanced stats favor UCLA. These teams both rank high in adjusted defensive efficiency; Saint Mary’s is 10th, whereas UCLA is 16th. However, UCLA is more of a standout on offense. They rank 16th in adjusted offensive efficiency, whereas Saint Mary’s ranked just 46th. That being said, UCLA was held to just 57 points against Akron, a team that’s terrible defensively.
While you can only take so much from one game, it’s hard to ignore recent form when comparing two closely ranked teams. As a result, we’re going to predict that Saint Mary’s upsets UCLA by the score of 63-58. If UCLA is going to win, they need to rediscover their offense, and they can’t get rattled by a few missed shots.
Where to Watch
You can watch this game at 7:10 PM EST on TBS.