A classic Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup will decide a Final Four.
No. 1 Michigan meets No. 11 UCLA in the East Region final Tuesday, with tipoff scheduled for 9:57 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be televised on TBS.
Michigan (23-4) is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018 under second-year coach Juwan Howard. The Wolverines continue to thrive despite the loss of forward Isaiah Livers, and their unselfish play stood out in a 76-58 victory against No. 4 Florida State in the Sweet 16. Michigan tied a season high with 19 assists against the Seminoles.
UCLA (21-9) is back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008 under second-year coach Mick Cronin. The Bruins can make the unlikely run from First Four to Final Four, which continued with an 88-78 victory against Alabama in the Sweet 16.
The Wolverines and Bruins have met in the NCAA tournament four times, and UCLA is 3-1 in those matchups.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Michigan vs. UCLA in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the Elite Eight game.
Michigan vs. UCLA betting odds
- Spread: Michigan -7.5
- Over/under: 137
- Moneyline: Michigan -330, UCLA +270
Three betting trends to watch
— Michigan is 19-8 against the spread, which is the second-best record among teams left in the tournament behind Oregon State (the Beavers are 22-9-1).
— The Wolverines are 7-1 against the spread when favored by five points or fewer this season and are 2-2 straight up against Pac-12 teams in the tournament since 1985.
— UCLA is 5-3 against the spread as an underdog, but are 4-4 straight up in that situation.
Michigan key players
Freshman Hunter Dickinson leads Michigan with 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The 7-1 center also is adept at passing through double teams. Franz Wagner is a 6-9 wing who averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in Michigan’s last two tournament victories. Guards Eli Brooks and Mike Smith form a veteran backcourt, and Brooks has been a hot shooter through the tournament. Brandon Johns Jr., Chaundee Brown and Austin Davis are excellent role players who have stepped up in Livers’ absence.
UCLA key players
Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez have been dynamic scorers for the Bruins through the tournament run: They average 21 and 16.8 points per game, respectively. Tyger Campbell, Jules Bernard and Cody Riley are part of a balanced starting five. Campbell scored 13 points and dished out five assists in the victory against Alabama. Reserve David Singleton scored 15 points and is a valuable sub for the Bruins.
Best individual matchup: Juzang vs. Wagner
UCLA’s four-guard lineup is a challenge for the Wolverines, and Wagner might slide over on Jaquez in certain sets. Wagner, however, is an excellent defensive player on the perimeter. UCLA can counter with Juzang, whose ability to the basket will test Wagner. Brown could get more minutes for Michigan as a result of UCLA’s perimeter depth.
Michigan vs. UCLA stat to know
UCLA is 9-1 when it forces opponents into 13 turnovers or more, but Michigan has an experienced guard tandem in Smith and Brooks. The Wolverines have had more than 13 turnovers in eight games, in which they are 7-1. The Bruins can still make pay if Michigan is sloppy with the basketball.
Get to know … Brandon Johns Jr.
Livers’ absence has been well-documented, but Johns continues to provide valuable minutes for the Wolverines as the next man up. Johns not only has averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 boards in four starts, but also has emerged as a complementary player in Michigan’s offense. Look for Johns to be involved in the high-low post game to test UCLA’s interior defense.
Michigan vs. UCLA prediction
UCLA needs to be hot from 3-point range early in this game. Michigan has shot 35.5 percent from that distance in the tournament, but the Wolverines have compensated for that by averaging 20 assists per game in the tournament. Michigan shares the ball well, and it will be able to break down UCLA’s defense consistently in the second half. Dickinson also poses an advantage in the post, and the Wolverines will feed off that down the stretch. Howard played in an 86-84 thriller between the teams in 1993. Michigan won that game, and they will win this one, too.
Final score: Michigan 80, UCLA 72