Northwestern faces UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern is coming off a close win against Boise State, while UCLA blew out UNC Asheville. My prediction is that UCLA covers the 7.5-point spread against Northwestern. Northwestern is a great story this season, but UCLA is one of the best teams in the country this season and that’s the difference. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for this game!
Northwestern vs. UCLA Prediction
UCLA is dealing with some injury issues, but is still one of the best teams in the country this season.
Jaime Jacquez Jr. has carried UCLA this year when needed, and he’s the Pac-12 Player of the Year this season too. He leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game and in rebounds at 8 per game. Tyger Campbell is the perfect sidekick to Jacquez Jr. at point guard. He’s second in scoring at 13.4 PPG and then also leads the team in assists at 5 per game. With Jaylen Clark out, Amari Bailey and David Singleton have had to step up the most, and so far it’s worked. Amari Bailey averages 11 PPG and then Singleton averages 9 PPG and is the most consistent three-point shooter on the team at 43.2%.
UCLA has been one of the best defensive teams in the country this season, despite the injuries. UCLA is 6th in the country in points allowed at 60.1 PPG. They allow 21.7 field goal’s a game, which is good for 13th in the country. They’re also 4th in point differential at +14.1. On offense, they score 74 PPG.
On the other side, Northwestern is a great story this season after making the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history.
Boo Buie is the leader for this team and makes the difference for the Wildcats when they need it. He leads the team in scoring at 17 PPG and in assists at 4.5 per game. Chase Audige is next up in scoring at 14 PPG and is their best perimeter defender where he leads the team in steals at 2.4 per game. Ty Berry and Brooks Barnhizer are next up in production and help when needed. Berry averages 9 PPG and Barnhizer averages 8 PPG.
Northwestern is also a very good defensive team. They are 18th in points allowed at 62.6 per game. They’re also 19th in field goals allowed at 21.9 per game. On offense, they then score 68 PPG.
Northwestern is an awesome story, but UCLA is a juggernaut and should blow Northwestern out. UCLA plays better defense than Northwestern across the board and is more talented. The Bruins should cover and roll in this game pretty easily towards the Sweet 16.
Northwestern vs. UCLA Prediction: UCLA -7.5
Northwestern vs. UCLA Odds
UCLA is a 7.5-point favorite against Northwestern and is at -345 on the money line. The over/under is also at 126.5. UCLA being favored by this much makes sense because of how good they looked all year and in their first game they played against UNC Asheville. The over/under also makes sense because each team is very good on defense, so this game should be low-scoring. This spread should also stay where it’s at before tip-off.
Northwestern vs. UCLA Key Matchups
Can Robbie Beran matchup with Jaime Jacquez Jr.? Can Tyger Campbell matchup with Boo Buie?
Jaime Jacquez Jr. vs Robbie Beran
Jaime Jacquez Jr. has been great for the Bruins this season. He averages 17 points, 2 assist, and 8 rebounds per game for the season. He’ll be matched up against Robbie Beran most of the game, who averages 8 points, 1 assist, and 5 rebounds per game for the season. Robbie Beran is the best forward Northwestern has, but he has his toughest matchup of the year in this game. Jacquez is the biggest single reason why I think UCLA covers my prediction of the 7.5-point spread against Northwestern, and also because of how good they are on defense.
Boo Buie vs Tyger Campbell
Boo Buie is Northwestern’s best player this season. He averages 17 points, 4.5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game for the season. He’ll be matched up against Tyger Campbell most of the game, who averages 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game for the season. Campbell is one of the most experienced players for the Bruins, but Buie is a tough matchup. Buie can’t do everything himself, so UCLA should still cover the spread.