To make his fifth Sweet 16 in nine years and continue the hunt for banner No. 12, the Bruins will face the defensive Gaels in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
WHO: Nr. 4 UCLA vs. Nr. 5 St. Mary’s
DATE: Saturday, March 19
TIME: 16:10 PT
PLACE: Moda Center, Portland, OR
TV: TBS – Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Steve Lappas (analyst), Andy Katz (sideline)
CURRENT: fuboTV – Get 7 days free trial
RADIO: AM 570, Sirius Ch. 137, XM Ch. 204, SXM App Ch. 967 – Josh Lewin (game for game), Tracy Murray (analyst)
DISTRIBUTION: UCLA -3 (-118), St. Mary’s +3 (-110) *
PENGALAD: UCLA (-163), St. Mary’s (+130) *
OVER UNDER: O 126 (-110), U 126 (-118)
UCLA is number 13 overall in the NCAA Tournament, while St. Mary’s is number 19. In the last AP survey, UCLA was No. 11 and St. Mary’s was No. 18.
The latest KenPom ratings have the Bruins at No. 11 and Gaels at No. 16, while NET Rankings places UCLA at No. 10 and St. Mary’s at No. 19.
UCLA entered the tournament 25-7, with remarkable wins over Arizona, Villanova, Marquette and USC. Losses against Arizona State and Oregon put the Bruins back in February, but both of those defeats got in the way and their only home loss this year came when fans were not allowed in the stands due to covid-19 restrictions.
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The Pac-12 tournament gave UCLA a chance to beat Washington State and USC in Las Vegas before losing to Arizona in the championship game. In the round of 64, UCLA narrowly escaped with a 57-53 win over No. 13 in seed Akron after spending most of the night.
The Bruins have an average of 75.8 points per game and allow 64.5. UCLA has the best defense and the second best scoring attack in the Pac-12 while being among the top five in the nation when it comes to limiting their turnover to just 9.1 per game.
Guard Johnny Juzang is UCLA’s top scorer with 15.8 points per game, while guard / forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., guard Jules Bernard and guard Tyger Campbell have 14.0, 12.7 and 11.7 per night respectively. Campbell has the most assists per game with 4.2, Jaquez has the most rebounds per game with 5.9 and center Myles Johnson shoots the team-best 62.0% from the field.
Jaquez has an average of 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game during his last seven appearances, but it was Campbell who led the way with 16 points on Thursday against Zips.
St. Mary’s similarly went into March Madness at 25-7 and sat early on the map by winning Notre Dame and Oregon in November. Losses against Wisconsin, Colorado State, San Diego State and BYU in the middle of winter put them back, but they finished the regular season and won 12 of 14 with a victory over Gonzaga No. 1.
A rematch with the Bulldogs in the WCC tournament did not go well, but they were completely among the top 25 at that time regardless. St. Mary’s opened the NCAA Tournament game with an 82-69 victory over No. 12 from Indiana – who came out of the first four – ran away big after being under several points halfway through the first half.
Gaels has an average of 70.1 points per game and allows 60.3. St. Mary’s offensive was in the middle of the road according to WCC standards, but their defense topped the conference and was ranked no worse than No. 10 in terms of points per game, KenPom and Bart Torvik. A slow pace also defined St. Mary’s identity this season, as they ended up as No. 338 in line with both KenPom and Bart Torvik measurement values.
St. Mary’s has four players with a double-digit average, led by forward Matthias Tasss 12.7 points per game, and their top-six rotation players are all juniors and seniors. Among the upper-class heavyweight team, Tass and forward Kyle Bowman lead the way in the return with only about 6.0 per game each, and guard Logan Johnson – a former signing from Cincinnati under coach Mick Cronin – has an average of 2.0 steals per game on the way to All-WCC other team awards.
Cronin is now in his 19th season as head coach, and he holds the all-time record of 432-200 with 13 NCAA tournaments in Murray State, Cincinnati and UCLA. Randy Bennett, who has been to St. Mary’s since 2001, is 480-199 through the ages, making eight NCAA tournaments under that span.
Gaels made Sweet 16 during Bennett 2013, and they have a record of 5-7 in the NCAA Tournament since taking the job. Before Bennett arrived, they had not won a March Madness match since 1959.
UCLA has played St. Mary’s seven times since 1950, with a record of 6-1 in the recorded series of all time. The Bruins have won four in a row dating back to 1980, and the Blue and Gold came out on top 123-93 the last time they met in 1990.
* Odds via SI Sportsbook
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