The UCLA Bruins and Alabama Crimson meet on Sunday evening on the final day of the Sweet Sixteen. After UCLA and Alabama tip-off at 7:15 p.m. EST, we’ll have Oregon and USC to wrap up the Sweet Sixteen with tip-off scheduled for 9:45 p.m. EST. Then it’s on to the Elite Eight on Monday. There is going to be no break between the two rounds, which is always nice for teams that are in a rhythm at the moment.
I’m looking at you Oregon State. We’ll know if the Beavers are for real on Monday night, as they take on the best defense left in the tournament against the Houston Cougars. It depends what Cougar team we’re going to see on Monday night. Good luck to the Beavers if they play how Syracuse did last night.
There weren’t any shockers on Saturday in the Sweet Sixteen. If you consider Oregon State winning as an underdog against Loyola Chicago a shocker, then that was the only upset despite Oral Roberts coming close. Oral Roberts pushed Arkansas to the brink in a 72-70 loss. The game was tied up at 70-70 late and Arkansas managed to find the bottom for a couple of points to avoid overtime.
That was a good move by the Razorbacks to bury Oral Roberts in regulation before giving their opponent life in overtime. If UCLA has their way on Sunday, then the Crimson Tide are an upset candidate. The No. 2 Crimson Tide don’t want this season to end. They’ve had tremendous success, and the oddsmakers have them continuing on to the Elite Eight by around 6 or 7 points. Alabama wants to shoot their opponent out of the gym, while UCLA likes to do the opposite and win games by slowing things down.
These are two different styles of basketball on display Sunday night. If UCLA can limit Alabama’s possessions, then they’ve won half the battle. Their defense has been carrying them through the NCAA Tournament, as they’ve held BYU to 63 points in a 73-63 win, and then blowing out Abilene Christian, 67-47. The Crimson Tide will be their biggest test of the tournament. Head below for our free UCLA vs. Alabama pick on March 28, 2021.
UCLA Bruins (11) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (2) Sweet Sixteen Betting Odds:
UCLA vs. Alabama Prediction:
UCLA must rely on their defense to win this game. They are not going to get into a run and gun game with Alabama and win. If UCLA tries to run with Alabama out of the gate, then this game is going to go sideways for them in a hurry. The Crimson Tide are one of the best in the business and letting it fly offensively.
They recorded an average of 79.6 points per game for 31st in the NCAA. Alabama may not be the best offense in the NCAA, but when they’re feeling hot, their offense can be difficult to stop. Credit Iona in the first-round for being able to slow things down, but it wasn’t enough in a 68-55 loss. They had the right idea, though struggled to make their shots.
Maryland did what you can’t do against Alabama, and that’s try to run with them and win a shootout. That’s not going to work because Alabama will usually win those games. The Crimson Tide did just that, clearing Maryland with ease by a score of 96-77. John Petty and Jaden Shackleford combined for 41 points in the winning effort. UCLA will have to be smarter than that or they’ll get rolled, too.
The Bruins are capable of providing some resistance on defense. Their effort on the defensive floor has been terrific through the tournament, and they’re going to need more of it against Alabama tonight. UCLA has conceded 67.9 points per game for 108th in the NCAA this season. They have allowed 67.2 points in their previous five games, and note that includes two overtime games against Oregon State and Michigan State.
Alabama is known for their shooting ability, but they have an underrated defense that can be sneaky good. If UCLA wants to go slow, the Alabama defense could answer the call and push back. Opponents are shooting 40.9% and just 29% from three against the Crimson Tide. That’s good for 45th and 16th in the nation.
Maryland wanted to run with Alabama and got punished for it, so the Terrapins scored 77 points with that tempo. However, in five of their last eight outings, Alabama has held teams to below 70 points. UCLA likely won’t press like Maryland did last round. They’ll probably want to take their chances by winning with defense. I think this total is a touch too high by 3 or 4 points. That provides some value on the UNDER at 145.5.