No. 3 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats Preview
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento
When: Sunday, March 19, 9:40 PM ET
TV Broadcast: TBS
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Betting on the UCLA Bruins (28-3, 15-3 Pac-12)
LaVar Ball can still continue talking junk. With his son Lonzo leading the way, the Bruins eked out a 97-80 win over Kent State in the first round of the tournament that booked the team a spot in the Round of 32.
Ball posted 15 points with four rebounds and just four assists, though he didn’t have to do much with TJ Leaf and other some other Bruins doing heavy damage on offense. Leaf led UCLA with 23 points, while Aaron Holiday came off the bench and fired 15 points.
UCLA likes to move the ball around and dizzy its opponents with some crisp passing, which it did to Kent State after recording 25 assists. Aside from topping the nation in scoring with 90.6 points per game, the Bruins are also no. 1 in assists with 21.6.
Cincinnati plays tough on defense but UCLA is capable of breaking any type of resistance so long as their passing continues and outside shooting clicking. The Bruins went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc versus Kent State. They average 9.8 threes per game on 40.7 percent shooting percentage.
The over is 2-0 in UCLA’s last two games.
Betting on the Cincinnati Bearcats (27-4, 16-2 AAC)
Now comes the acid test for Cincinnati’s vaunted defense. The Bearcats brandishes one of the most ferocious defenses in the nation, which will be put to test by the high-scoring UCLA squad.
Cincinnati, which is coming off a 75-61 win over Kansas State on Friday, allows just 60.5 PPG, fourth best in the nation. That was on full display against the Wildcats, who were held to only 38.9% shooting from the floor. That said, Cincy lost the turnover battle, 11-7. That’s a bit uncharacteristic for Mick Cronin’s boys, who commit just 10.1 errors per game as against their opponents’ 13.5.
Cincinnati needs to force the Bruins to commit turnovers to get extra possessions while at the same time cutting down the UCLA’s offensive chances. Ball might be playing a bit hurt tonight after landing on his hip in the Kent State game so expect the Bearcats to capitalize on that assumption by putting as much ball pressure as possible on the UCLA guard. Taking Ball out of synch is going to be crucial for the Bearcats in slowing down the Bruins’ deadly offense.
On offense, the Bearcats seek to introduce their solid midrange game to UCLA, which didn’t impress defensively against Kent State. Cincinnati is making 41.1% of its two-point jumpers, which comprises the bulk of the team’s offense.
Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last five games.
UCLA (-3.5) wins 78-76.
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