Gonzaga vs UCLA Odds
Wednesday, Nov. 22
11:59 p.m. ET
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
This has to be one of the most impressive fifth-place consolation bracket games in college basketball tournament history, as Gonzaga and UCLA meet in what should be a wildly entertaining game.
On paper, this matchup feels more like a “championship” game than a consolation bracket nightcap. There’s been a lot to like from both squads in the first two days of this tournament, but unfortunately for both programs, this field was absolutely loaded.
Gonzaga outplayed Purdue for the first 20 minutes of its opening game, before following up its impressive start with a trouncing of Syracuse. The Zags love to play fast, and their guard duo of Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard appears to be one of the best in the country.
UCLA has size and skill everywhere. Despite its youth, these Bruins are no babies. Adem Bona, Aday Mara and Berke Buyuktuncel make up one of the most versatile front lines in college basketball this year.
The Bruins will try and slow this game down and make it a half-court contest, and Gonzaga will do the opposite.
The contrast in styles — plus the talent on both teams — will make this an incredibly fun way to end the Maui Invitational.
For Gonzaga, it starts with the duo of Nembhard and Hickman. Mark Few brought in Nembhard from Creighton to run the show at the point guard position and his presence has instantly made a difference for Hickman, who looks much more comfortable hunting shots off the ball.
Gonzaga is a balanced, talented squad. In addition to the guards, Graham Ike and Anton Watson are a quality pairing in the frontcourt and on any given night, one of these four players could be the best on the floor.
It was Hickman and Ike in the blowout win against Syracuse. They combined for 35 points and paced the Zags to a dominant performance.
Depth is a concern, as Gonzaga doesn’t have much off the bench. Three games in three days may finally wear the Bulldogs down.
The other question is shooting. The Zags are making just 28% of their 3-point shots as a team. UCLA guards the 3 well and if Gonzaga’s shooting woes continue, it may be a long night.
UCLA also outplayed a top-five team in Marquette.
The Bruins’ defense is their strength, ranking 14th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency coming into this game.
While the frontcourt deserves first mention for UCLA, the Bruins also have talented guards that aren’t afraid of the big moment.
Freshman guard Sebastian Mack was the best player in the Marquette game, finishing with 25 points on 13 shots and making all 13 of his free throws.
Like Gonzaga, UCLA is making just 28% of its shots from outside the arc. If this game comes down to shot making, it will truly be a toss-up.
Gonzaga enters as 4.5-point favorites here, and while I could certainly see it winning, the value feels like it’s with the Bruins.
Physically, UCLA will advantages at most positions on the floor, and Gonzaga’s depth concerns will finally come back to bite it while playing its third game in three days.
I love UCLA to cover, and take it all the way down to +4.
Pick: UCLA +4.5 (Play to +4)
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Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.