Will Adam Morrison watch this game? We’re not sure if he’s actually moved on entirely from the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ loss to the UCLA Bruins in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, but here’s what we know for certain: this game is must-watch basketball.
Catch this game live on Sunday, April 4, at 8:34 AM, Manila time
No. 11 UCLA Bruins (22-9 overall/13-6 Pac-12 record)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Tyger Campbell
- SG: Johnny Juzang
- SF: Jules Bernard
- PF: Jaime Jaquez
- C: Cody Riley
Maybe the Pac-12 is underrated after all. But of all the Pac-12 teams which created noise in the tournament, it’s No. 11 seed UCLA that is the last one standing, and it has a lot to do with Johnny Juzang AKA Johnny Basketball. Juzang has always been a talented player who left Lexington and hooked up with Mick Cronin in UCLA, but he’s doing something even more special in the Big Dance.
Juzang is single-handedly carrying the Bruins. In the win over the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines, the Bruins truly needed Juzang to explode in order to win, and explode he did against one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Juzang scored 28 points in UCLA’s upset 51-49 win over Michigan in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga will be a tough beast to tame for UCLA, especially if Juzang will be the only one catching fire, so the Bruins will have to get other players hot as well.
Juzang is averaging 21.6 points per game on 47.7 FG% in the tournament, thus far. However, it’s arguably more realistic to expect UCLA to humble the Bulldogs with its defense. The Bruins managed to slow down Michigan’s offense that entered the Regional Finals with an average of 76.8 points per game.
The Bruins have even stepped it up of late defensively. Their last three opponents have not scored more than a point per possession.
No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-0 overall/15-0 WCC)
- PG: Jalen Suggs
- SG: Andrew Nembhard
- SF: Joel Ayayi
- PF: Corey Kispert
- C: Drew Timme
The Bulldogs don’t need to be lucky to win it all. But UCLA winning over the Wolverines happened anyway and Gonzaga will gladly welcome the Bruins to Mark Few’s torture chamber.
Gonzaga is still undefeated. The team blew by the WCC regular season and dominated the conference tournament, as expected. Gonzaga knows the Bruins are having a March Madness magic going for them, but the Bulldogs’ offense should send everything UCLA worked for in the tournament circling down the drain.
The Bulldogs are the highest-scoring team in the land of college basketball, scoring 91.6 points per game on an incredible 54.9 FG% and a 61.% eFG%. “But, but the Bulldogs faced just a bunch of dummies in the WCC.” Well, in four non-conference Quadrant 1 games in the regular season against Kansas, Auburn, West Virginia, and Iowa, the Bulldogs shot 54.3 FG%.
UCLA contained Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner in the Elite Eight, which may lead the Bruins to think that they can slow down Drew Timme and Corey Kispert. Many have tried, but no team has yet to shut down Gonzaga’s offense that’s feeding off an ultra-talented and efficient first five.
Along with Timme and Kispert are potential No. 1 top pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi, and Florida Gators transfer Andrew Nembhard. Timme, Kispert, and Ayayi are all top 30 in the nation in TS%, too. Gonzaga is stacked to the gills.
If this was a game in the regular season, the spread would have been a whole lot thicker, but the recency bias of the betting public who mostly haven’t watched much college basketball before March must have influenced the line to move to a more favorable spread for Gonzaga. Gonzaga is going to blow UCLA out of the water and win convincingly. Still, we got to put some respect on Jaime Jaquez and Juzang. Take Gonzaga to win straight up with ease and the Bruins to cover the max spread as 15.5-point underdogs.
UCLA will do everything in its power to slow the game down. The Bruins are 338th in adjusted tempo and 319th in average possession length. The Bruins will not win the possession battle still but take the Under (146.5)