Tuesday 3/31 NCAA Tournament Betting: UCLA vs. Michigan

OSGA analyst and sports betting expert Ross Benjamin breaks down Tuesday night’s NCAA Tournament “Elite 8” matchup between UCLA/Michigan (9:55 PM ET). This insightful college basketball betting article concludes with Ross making a winning prediction on the total.

UCLA/Michigan Betting Odds

The #11 seed UCLA Bruins will face the #1 seed Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday in an Elite 8 matchup. According to the college basketball betting odds at Bookmaker, the posted total on this NCAA Tournament East Regional Final is 136.0. Additionally, BetOnline currently has Michigan as a 6.5-point favorite.

Slow Paced Teams

Since my focus will be on the total in this contest, I am going to refer to some relevant analytics that are applicable. Let's start with the offensive tempo at which each team has played at this season. College Basketball tempo numbers are calculated by averaging how may offensive possessions teams have per 40 minutes of action.

When using this formula, UCLA ranks among the slowest tempo teams in all of college basketball. The Bruins average just 64.2 offensive possessions per 40 minutes of play. That ranks #327 out of 357 Division 1 teams.

Conversely, Michigan ranks #247 in that category at 66.8 offensive possessions per 40 minutes. That's not a snail's pace but is still among the bottom 25% in that specific category. The point being, although Michigan plays at slightly quicker tempo than UCLA, it's highly doubtful they will attempt to force UCLA into playing at a brisker offensive pace.

Stout Defensive Teams

When it comes to measuring the defensive efficiency of a college basketball team, the equation is quite simple. How many points does a team allow per 100 offensive possessions by their opponents?

Michigan UCLA free pickMichigan ranks #8 nationally in defensive efficiency. The Wolverines are allowing just 88.7 points per 100 possessions this season.

Despite UCLA being not nearly as good at 95.2 points allowed per 100 possessions, they still rank in the top 15% nationally in this category.

Protecting the Basketball

Even if you are a casual college basketball fan, it's common knowledge that committing turnovers often times leads to points scored by opponents. With that said, both UCLA and Michigan have done a terrific job of limiting their offensive turnovers in recent games.

Throughout the four NCAA Tournament games UCLA has played, they are committing only 7.0 turnovers per contest. On the other hand, Michigan has committed just 8.8 turnovers per contest over their previous 6 games.

Recent UCLA Offensive and Defensive Numbers Askew

Most college basketball totals bettors keep it simple by only looking at points scored and allowed per game. However, that data can at times be misleading. A prime example of that is UCLA during their first four NCAA Tournament games.

UCLA Elite 8 betting tipsUCLA has averaged 78.5 points scored and 66.2 points allowed per game during the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, we must keep in mind that 2 of their 4 contests required overtime to determine a winner. When digging deeper, we find that the Bruins averaged 70.5 points scored and 62.3 points allowed per game during regulation time.

Strong Under Trend for Michigan

Michigan is coming off a dominating 76-58 win over Florida State on Sunday. The Wolverines have played 8-1 to the under this season following a game in which they allowed 60 points or fewer. That includes 6-0 to the under during their last six in this exact situation, and with just a combined 131.0 points scored per game.

Final Analysis & Pick

This will be a grind it out game played at a slow and methodical offensive pace. Both teams are good 3-point shooting teams but neither relies heavily on that aspect of their games. Michigan has seen just 29.4% of their points scored produced from beyond the 3-point line. That ranks #213 nationally. On the other side of the table, only 28.1% of points scored by UCLA this season have come via successful 3-point shot attempts, and that ranks #248 in the country. My NCAA Tournament free pick in this contest aligns itself perfectly with all the analytical and statistical data provided throughout this article.

Pick: UCLA/Michigan Under 136.0

Ross Benjamin is a top sports analyst and one of the sports industry's most respected handicappers. Follow him on Twitter: @RossBenjamin1 or visit his website at RBWins.com

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