Northwestern vs. UCLA Odds: March Madness Second Round Betting

Written By Eli Hershkovich on March 18, 2023
Northwestern vs. UCLA Odds

Northwestern squares off against UCLA at 8:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 18 on TNT. The 2-seed Bruins are spread favorites, with the 7-seed Wildcats to win the game on the moneyline. UCLA vs. Northwestern odds also include a point total of .

In this article, we’ll dissect what you need to know before placing a bet on these second round odds, including team matchups, key metrics, and the best available odds.

Northwestern vs. UCLA Odds

Click on the odds to bet now. Toggle between spreadmoneyline and total.

UCLA’s Injury Bug

The Bruins deliver the top-rated adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom), but Jaylen Clark’s season-ending Achilles injury throws a wrench into things. I’m still bullish on UCLA, but its transition defense takes a hit without Clark, the 2022-23 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. That needs to be accounted for against uptempo teams, like Kansas, Gonzaga, TCU, or Arkansas — all apart of the West Region. Overall, Mick Cronin’s team is letting up 0.11 PPP more when Clark isn’t on the court this season.

On top of Clark’s absence, five-star freshman Adem Bona is dealing with a nagging shoulder injury. He missed the first-round win over UNC Asheville. Mick Cronin’s unit notched a -19.84 net rating differential when the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Bona was on the bench in Pac-12 play.

Bona’s rim protection and offensive rebounding prowess are both big reasons why. His status for this game is still unknown.

Handicapping Northwestern vs. UCLA Odds

Similar to UCLA, Northwestern operates a methodical offense, tallying a bottom-55 adjusted tempo. The Wildcats own a top-20 defensive rating as well. Hence, this spread could wind up being too many points in what should be a low-scoring affair.

However, Chris Collins’ unit struggles mightily on the glass at both ends. That was mitigated by its abnormal offensive efficiency in the first round against Boise State, notching 1.25 PPP. In particular, the Wildcats went 38.1% from behind the arc. But shotmaking has still been a concern all season. Northwestern ranks No. 330 in regards to ShotQuality PPP on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers despite taking them at the 14th-highest rate in D-I.

If Chase Audige & Co. can do the same to exploit Bruins’ biggest defensive liability, they’ll wind up covering the number. But their productivity could’ve easily been a product of facing a lowly Mountain West program.

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