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UNC Asheville vs UCLA Picks & Odds – Bruins Favored by 17.5 in Round One of March Madness

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in College Basketball

Updated Mar 15, 2023 · 8:01 PM PDT

UCLA players celebrate a scoring play
Mar 10, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Tyger Campbell (10) celebrates with UCLA Bruins guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) after a scoring play against the Oregon Ducks during the second half at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
  • The #2 UCLA Bruins are 17.5-point favorites over the #15 UNC Asheville Bulldogs in their NCAA Tournament West Region game on Thursday, March 16
  • UNC Asheville is 9-0 straight up over the last nine games
  • The UCLA vs UNC Asheville odds and picks can be found below

Playing their first NCAA Tournament game in seven years, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (27-7, 17-15 ATS) are matching up with the UCLA Bruins (29-5, 19-13-2 ATS), the winningest team in March Madness history. UCLA has won a record 11 national titles and with the #7-ranked team in the nation, have a squad that looks capable of making it an even dozen.

Certainly, oddsmakers are down with the Bruins making short work of the Bulldogs. It’s UCLA that’s set as a 17.5-point favorite in this game. The Bruins are 28-2 straight-up as a betting favorite this season.

UNC Asheville vs UCLA Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
UNC Asheville +17.5 (-110) +1150 O 136 (-110)
UCLA -17.5 (-110) -2400 U 136 (-110)

UCLA is set with a betting line of +1200 in the March Madness odds, making the Bruins the co-fifth betting choice to win the tournament. The Bruins are given -250 odds of reaching the Sweet 16. UNC Asheville are assigned odds of +200000 to win the NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off for this game is set for 10:05 pm ET on Thursday, March 16 at the Golden 1 Center. The game is being carried by truTV.



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Bulldogs vs Bruins Betting Trends

The people are showing mixed emotions when it comes to betting on this game. In the public spread splits, the Bulldogs are getting the love. UNC Asheville is drawing 75% of handle and 51% of bets. On the moneyline splits, there’s a decisive edge for UCLA. The Bruins are garnering 66% of handle and 90% of bets.

The over is seeing the action on the total of 136 points. It’s grabbing 58% of handle and 71% of bets. Nine of UNC Asheville’s last 13 games went over. In UCLA’s last 16 games the over and under have each come in eight times.

Worrisome Injuries For Bruins

One key player is out for the Bruins and a second vital performer is uncertain to play in this game.

Guard Jaylen Clark, the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the year, is done for the season due to a torn Achilles. He’s third on the team in scoring (13.0 points per game) and second in rebounding (6.0 boards per game).

Forward Adem Bona, the Pac 12 Freshman of the Year, is questionable with a shoulder injury. He’s been practicing but will be a game-time decision. The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging a team-best 1.7 blocks per game.

Turnovers Are a Treat for UCLA

UCLA forces 15.9 turnovers per game. That’s ranked 20th in the nation. According to KenPom, the Bruins rank 19th in the NCAA at forcing non-steal turnovers.

This is concerning for the Bulldogs. They turn the ball over 14.1 times per game. That places UNC-Asheville 44th in the NCAA at committing turnovers. Senior forward Drew Pember (3.3 per game) and senior guard Caleb Burgess (2.7) are the biggest turnover offenders for the Bulldogs. Between them they’ve committed 205 of UNC Asheville’s 480 turnovers.

The absence of Clark could be a factor here, though. He was averaging a team-high 2.6 steals per game.

UNC Asheville a Long-Range Threat

The nation’s seventh-best team from beyond the arc, UNC Asheville is hitting the 3-point shot at a 39.01% rate. Guards Tajion Jones (45.6%) and Fletcher Abee (42.1) are both over 40% from long range. Pember (37.1) is a third starter over 35% when shooting threes.

UCLA has allowed 714 shots against from 3-point range this season. That’s 18th-highest in the nation.

UNC Asheville vs UCLA Prediction

Guard Jaime Jaquez Jr drives the bus for UCLA. He’s leading the team in points (17.3) and rebounds (8.1) per game. Pember (21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds) does likewise for UNC Asheville.

The difference is if Jaquez has an off day, UCLA has others who can pick him up. Pember needs to be on his A-game for the Bulldogs to be in with a chance.

UNC Asheville will keep this one close, but UCLA has been to the Sweet 16 two years running. The depth and experience of the Bruins will carry the day in a tight game.

Pick: UNC Asheville Bulldogs +17.5 (-110)


Other first round March Madness predictions:

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