NCAA Tournament – Final Four
No. 1 Gonzaga (30-0) vs. UCLA (22-9)
- Time: 5:34 PST – 7:34 CST – 8:34 pm EST
- Place: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
- TV: CBS
Gonzaga and UCLA tip-off for only the sixth time in history as the Bulldogs hold a 3-2 lead over the Bruins. Gonzaga defeated the Bruins in the Sweet 16 in 2015, 74-62, but UCLA won the last meeting in Dec., 2015, when the Bruins took a 71-66 lead in Spokane.
The Bulldogs continue to roll on like the proverbial well oiled machine as they have won 27 straight games by double digits and broke the 1971-72 UCLA winning streak for a season in most weeks at No. 1 with 21 weeks. No team in history has won 27 in a row by double digits.
UCLA lost four in a row coming into the NCAA Tournament and was handed an 11-seed and a date with Michigan State in the play-in game which kick-started the five-game winning streak into the Final Four.
It’s the Zags’ first Final Four since 2017 where they defeated South Carolina, 77-63, before losing to North Carolina for the National Championship.
This is the Bruins’ 19th Final Four in program history as they last appeared in 2008 and they are 13-5 in their last 18 Final Four contests and last went to the championship game in 2006 where they lost to Florida.
Vs. The Spread:
- The Bulldogs check in at 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games
- The UNDER has been the play in 4 of the last 6 Zags’ games
- Gonzaga is 10-0 SU in the last 10 vs. the Pac-12
- The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games
- UCLA is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 game vs. Gonzaga
- The Bruins are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games vs. the WCC
Last Time Out:
Drew Timme had 23 points and five rebounds as Gonzaga wasted little time in taking down USC, 85-66, in the West Regional Final. Jalen Suggs had a stellar evening with 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Gonzaga shot 50 percent from the floor which is 4.9 percent less than their average of 54.9 percent on the season.
UCLA won a rock fight over Michigan, 51-49, on Tuesday. They held Michigan to only 39 percent from the floor, but the Bruins shot only 38 percent themselves. Johnny Juzang led the Bruins with a game-high 28 points while Tyger Campbell added 11.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|UCLA||+14 (-105)||+725||O 145½ (-110)|
|Gonzaga||-14 (-115)||-1150||U 145½ (-110)|
The Bulldogs continue to roll with the top rated offense – No. 1 in adjusted offensive efficiency as well as effective field goal efficiency, per kenpom.com. Drew Timme is averaging 20.7 points per game in Gonzaga’s four NCAA Tournament games as he has been a tough matchup in the pivot for even Evan Mobley of USC. Jalen Suggs (14.0 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Corey Kispert (18.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) have been unsolvable in Gonzaga’s backcourt as these three work in tandem maybe better than any three in the nation in a Gonzaga offense that averages 14.3 seconds per offensive possession (3rd/NCAA).
Key Bulldogs Stat:
Joel Ayayi (19th/NCAA) joins Timme (14th) and Kispert (9th) in the Top 20 in Kenpom’s offensive rating. Ayayi (11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) shoots 56.8 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from the three as he is sneaky good because of the clipping that his three teammates accrue and rightfully so. His length makes him an excellent defender as he and Suggs are going to likely match up on Tyger Campbell and Johnny Juzang in some form or fashion. Andrew Nembhard has gotten stronger over the past year and has been an immediate hit since arriving off the transfer from Florida. Nembhard has 128 assists, one more than Suggs’ 127.
The Bulldogs bring the defense as well as their 41.6 percent and 31.9 percentage from behind the arc has to be in the thoughts of the Bruins who struggled to score against Michigan. Suggs has 53 steals and Anton Watson (7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) has amassed 33. Watson and Andrew Nembhard produce on both ends of the floor in a consistent fashion as well.
Coach Mick Cronin breathes life into these Bruins, almost on call. The defense has bourgeoned in the tournament as the last three opponents – Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan – have shot only 37.5 percent from the field and 23.7 percent from three. Watch the offensive calls as he has settled the Bruins into a half-court mindset and they are on point according to matchup and situation. UCLA’s options are getting shots whether they knock them down or not. The pace of this game has to be at the 18.9 seconds per offensive possession and then 18.0 seconds per defensive possession.This has to be the norm for the Bruins to have a shot.
Key Bruins Stat:
Johnny Juzang has been incredible in the tournament and at times it feels like the Bruins will jump on his back on offense and ride. That cannot happen against Gonzaga because of the offensive weaponry and the potential for the Bulldogs to use their defense to jump to the quick lead like they did on USC and move immediately from there. Juzang, who leads UCLA in scoring at 15.5 points per game, has averaged 21.6 points pre outing through the five games in the tournament. It’s all hands on deck though against Gonzaga as Jaime Jaquez, Jr. (12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) will need to rebound from his four points vs. Michigan and provide a solid double digits game.
UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell is cool as can be in accentuating the Bruins’ offense and giving them such a defensive presence. He finds 10.2 points per night in 33.6 minutes while Jules Bernard is another role player who can contribute as he showed with 16 points against BYU and 17 in the win over Alabama.
WINNER: Gonzaga (-14) 75, UCLA 59