Sweet 16 Betting Preview – The UCLA Bruins and Kentucky Wildcats met up earlier in the season, in what was certainly a fast-paced marquee game. Now they will play again with the stakes quite a bit higher. The winner of this Sweet 16 matchup will move on to the Elite 8, as they square off on Friday night at 9:39 PM ET at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. This game will be televised by CBS, and VietBet customers will have the opportunity to place wagers while it is in progress, utilizing the state-of-the-art software available from Live Betting Ultra.
Sweet 16 Odds – UCLA vs Kentucky:
In the college basketball betting odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet, it’s all even:
UCLA Bruins pick
Over 165.5 points -110
Under 165.5 points -110
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March Madness Sweet 16 Odds – UCLA vs Kentucky – CJ’s Take:
UCLA is the definition of a high-octane unit, averaging 90.3 points per game, with the top Effective Field Goal Percentage in the country, according to the analytics site KenPom.com. They lost out in the semi-finals of the Pac 12 tournament to Arizona, but they have moved through the first two rounds of their NCAA Tournament experience with double-digit victories. First, it was a 97-80 triumph over Kent State, and then a 79-67 victory over Cincinnati. This was impressive, in the respect that the Bearcats are one of the better defensive teams in the country, holding UCLA to just 30 points in the first half, but the Bruins came back with 49 points in the second half, shooting 50% overall.
Kentucky won the SEC tournament championship, and they have had a harder time than a lot of people expected in the first two rounds of the Big Dance, beating Northern Kentucky by a 79-70 score and then defeating Wichita State 75-72. As usual, John Calipari relies mostly on freshmen, and they comprise one of the better backcourts in the country.
UCLA is 31-4 straight-up and 17-18 against the basketball point spread. They also came into the tournament ranked #6 in the country in the Coaches’ poll and eighth with the Associated Press. Kentucky is 31-5 straight-up and 16-18-1 ATS. Entering the tournament, they were fifth in both major polls.
It might be instructive to look at the previous meeting between these teams, which took place on December 3 at Rupp Arena. UCLA was very hard for Kentucky to stop in that one, nailing 58% of their two-point shots and also making 10 triples. The Bruins had six players scoring in double figures in the 97-92 victory. However, Kentucky did pull down 19 offensive rebounds, and Bam Adebayo, who was being integrated more and more into the offensive attack, had 18 points for the Wildcats. Kentucky did not have a great day from the three-point line, going just 8-24 from downtown, and they were just 41.2% overall. And even though UCLA is not necessarily the strongest rebounding team, they had a 41-38 edge over the Cats.
VietBet patrons who have followed the situation with Kentucky know that they like to play a fast-paced game, but UCLA, which is sixth in the nation in offensive tempo, will gladly accommodate them. And while Kentucky is a rather mediocre 35% three-point range, UCLA is third-best in the nation shooting both threes and two-pointers. And they have perhaps the best player on the floor in freshman Lonzo Ball, who might be the #1 pick in the NBA draft when all is said and done. Meanwhile, Kentucky freshman Malik Monk, who was a prolific scorer, has been kind of cold in the first two games of this tournament, making just six of 21 shots and going only 2-11 from three-point territory. Considering he is Kentucky’s biggest threat from the outside (39.3% triples), that is a concern. But let’s also keep in mind that Kentucky has the eighth-highest efficiency ranking on defense, while UCLA is just 77th.
By Charles Jay
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