UCLA vs. Alabama Betting Preview

One of the headline games during Sunday’s Sweet 16 schedule features the no. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide facing the no. 11 UCLA Bruins in the East Region. Game time is at 7:25 EST on Sunday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Crimson Tide is favored by 6.5 points, with the over/under set at 145.5 points.

The Bruins have worked harder than most teams to get to this point. UCLA began its run in the First Four against Michigan State, overcoming an 11-point halftime deficit before winning in overtime. It’s actually gotten a little easier since then, with the Bruins registering comfortable wins over BYU and Abilene Christian.

Of course, Alabama have been equally comfortable on its way to the Sweet 16. The Crimson Tide had a little trouble with a feisty Iona team in the First Round before ultimately pulling away. They followed that up with a convincing win over Maryland in the Round of 32, dropping 96 points on the Terrapins.

Raining 3’s

When the Crimson Tide is draining shots from the outside, they are one of the toughest teams to beat. After making just five three-pointers against Iona, Alabama was 16 of 33 against Maryland. The Tide has eight players who have made at least 20 three-point shots in 32 games this season, which means everyone on the floor is a threat from a distance, making them a difficult team to guard.

Alabama also puts pressure on opposing teams by pushing the tempo and trying to wear teams down. The Tide has ten players who play significant minutes, including five guards who aren’t afraid to get up and down the floor and fire off the first good shot they get. That style of play has worked for much of the season, given the play of guards Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, and John Petty, who match up favorably with almost every other backcourt in the country.

Here’s Johnny!

UCLA sophomore Johnny Juzang has officially arrived. Since the second half of the Michigan State game, the Kentucky transfer has been playing at a different level. While he averages 15.1 points per game on the season, Juzang is scoring more than 22 points per game during the NCAA Tournament. He’s not much for dishing out assists, but when UCLA needs a bucket, they know they can go to him.

Of course, the Bruins are more than a one-man team. Jaime Jaquez has been instrumental in knocking down shots, while Cody Riley has been key in providing a post presence, registering a double-double against Abilene Christian. If there’s one thing missing for UCLA, it’s more scoring from point guard Tyger Campbell. He’s a great playmaker but has scored fewer than 10 points in eight straight games despite averaging 10.1 points per game on the season. If he can become more of a scoring threat, he can be an important X-factor for the Bruins.

Roll Tide!

The Bruins are facing a huge step up in competition level from the three teams they’ve beaten to the SEC regular-season and tournament champs. UCLA isn’t far removed from a four-game losing streak and could be ready for a letdown against a talented Alabama team. Bet on the Crimson Tide to win and cover on Sunday.

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