UCLA Bruins vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – 2021 March Madness Sweet Sixteen
From barely squeaking into the First Four to a date in the Sweet 16, UCLA is surging at the most opportune time.
After three straight victories in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Bruins are set to clash with 2nd-seeded Alabama on Sunday night with a trip to the Elie 8 on the line.
For odds, insight, and a UCLA vs. Alabama prediction, dive in below.
UCLA vs. Alabama Odds and Key Info
- When: 7:15 pm EDT, 3/28/2021
- Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN
- Coverage: TBS
- Line: Alabama -6.5
- Money Line: Alabama -270, UCLA +230
- Total: 146
Why the Bruins Can Cover
Entering the NCAA Tournament at a lackluster 12-14 against the spread, Mick Cronin and company put a smile on UCLA backers during the first week of March Madness.
|Abilene Christian||UCLA -5.5||W, 67-47|
|BYU||UCLA +3.5||W, 73-62|
|Michigan State||UCLA +2.5||W, 86-80|
Covering with ease in each of the last three games, the Bruins head into their tilt with Alabama coming off their best defensive performance of the season. The Crimson Tide do most of their damage behind the three-point line – which happens to be the area on the court where UCLA’s D has excelled the most as of late.
Opponents are shooting a combined 13/54 (24%) from downtown versus the Bruins in the tournament.
Thanks to a trio of 6’6” wings in the starting lineup, UCLA’s length has caused problems and forced the opposition into taking lots of contested shots. Even more impressive is how diligent Mick Cronin’s team has been with the basketball.
Case in point – the Bruins are averaging just 6.67 turnovers/game thus far in March Madness.
Have solace knowing that both Johnny Juzang (22.3 ppg) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (16.7 ppg) are peaking in the NCAA Tournament.
Why the Crimson Tide Can Cover
Before we get all hyped up on how well UCLA has been playing, remember that the Bruins lost four straight to close the season and were a genuine “bubble team” on Selection Sunday. UCLA is arguably missing their best player (Chris Smith) and ranked 8th in the Pac-12 in three-point defense.
Alabama leads the country in 3PT attempts and 3PT makes – a bold style that was on full display in a 19-point thrashing over Maryland. The Terrapins shot 53.3% from the field and won the turnover battle in their second-round matchup versus the Tide, yet they still got blown out of the water.
The boys from Tuscaloosa can beat you by raining threes, but it’s the way they crash the glass with authority that allows them to control the pace. Clocking in 8th in the nation in rebounds per game, Nate Oats’ crew are a mind-boggling +37 on the boards just two games into the dance.
John Petty Jr. and Jahvon Quinerly are the team’s two leading scorers, and John Petty Jr. dropped 20 last time out. Throw in what Herb Jones (SEC POY and DPOY) brings to the table, and you’re looking at a sincere Final Four contender.
UCLA vs. Alabama Prediction
Ripping off three successive wins in March Madness should always be lauded, but let’s face the music before locking in a UCLA vs. Alabama pick.
The Bruins are shooting nearly 43% from outside in the NCAA Tournament – that’s unlikely to hold up. UCLA hasn’t faced anyone even remotely as explosive as the Crimson Tide so far.
It’s one thing to take care of the ball against Abilene Christian and BYU’s likes – it’s a whole different ball game going up against the team coached by Nate Oats. Bama’s forced 15.6 turnovers per game – more than any team left in the tournament outside of Baylor.
The Tide have covered the spread over 58% of this season (over 57% of the time as a favorite) and are sitting at #3 in my Sweet 16 power rankings. The Bruins occupy the 15th slot and will be overmatched at Hinkle Fieldhouse.