- UCLA is a 3.5-point favorite over Saint Mary’s in an NCAA East Regional game Friday
- Saint Mary’s is 6-1 straight up and 4-3 ATS in its last seven
- Read below for analysis and a betting prediction
No. 4 seed UCLA (26-7, 17-14-1 ATS) is a 3.5-point favorite over Saint Mary’s in an NCAA East Region game Saturday at 1 pm ET at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. UCLA is 9-2 straight up in its 11 games, 7-4 ATS.
No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s (26-7, 19-11-2 ATS) beat No. 1 Gonzaga by 10 points in the regular season, the largest margin of defeat in the Zags’ three losses. Five of the Gaels’ seven defeats have come to NCAA Tournament teams.
UCLA vs Saint Mary’s Odds
|UCLA Bruins||-175||-3.5 (-115)||Over 126.5 (-110)|
|Saint Mary’s Gaels||+145||+3.5 (-110)||Under 126.5 (-110)|
Odds from BetMGM on March 17.
No. 4 seed UCLA in a 3.5-point favorite over Saint Mary’s in an NCAA East Region with the total set at 126.5, the lowest UCLA has seen all year. UCLA is -175 on the moneyline, meaning the Bruins have a 63.6% implied win probability. Saint Mary’s is +145 on the moneyline, which translates into a 40.9% implied win probability.
UCLA, which won four NCAA Tournament games a year ago, opened with +2650 average odds to win March Madness. Those odds improved to +1950 after the win over Akron. Their Final Four odds improved as well after day one (from +575 to +450), helped by East Region #2 seed Kentucky losing to #15 Saint Peter’s.
Gaels Blow Past Indiana
Saint Mary’s had an easy time in the first round, pulling away from weary Indiana for an 82-53 victory behind guards Logan Johnson and Tommy Kuhse, who combined for 39 points. Johnson had 20.
The Gaels shot 51.7 percent from the field, 47.6 percent from distance, using an offense controlled by point guard Kuhse that frees perimeter shooters off high-ball screens. The led by as many as 34.
Kuhse and 6’7 wing Alex Ducas (13 points) made three 3-pointers apiece and 6’10 center Matthias Tass had 12 points to give the Gaels four double-figure scorers, a balance that guided them through the regular season. All four averaged between 10.2 and 12.5 points per game, and three had at least 40 3-pointers.
Kuhse (14 points) was one of four double-figure scorers when Saint Mary’s held Gonzaga to 36.7 percent shooting from the field in its 67-57 home victory over the Bulldogs on Feb. 26, Gonzaga won 82-69 when the teams met again in the WCC Tournament finals.
UCLA Advances on Tyger Time
UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell scored eight of his 16 points in a 91 seconds late in the second half in the Bruins’ comeback 57-53 victory over Akron.
Campbell’s personal 8-0 run — two three-pointers on assists from Jaime Jaquez Jr. around a mid-range jumper — gave the Bruins a 55-51 lead with 1:20 remaining.
After Akron closed to 55-53, Johnny Juzang made two free throws with two seconds remaining for the final points. The Bruins won despite shooting 35.2 percent from the field.
Juzang, who shot 51 percent from the floor and made 15 three-pointers when the Bruins made the Elite Eight as a No. 11 seed last season, had nine points on 3 of 11 shooting and is shooting 43 percent this season.
Grab the 6 Best NCAA Tournament Betting Promo Codes for Round of 64
It’s Pronounced ‘Cousy’
Fifth-year senior Tommy Kuhse’s return to the starting lineup has sparked the Gaels’ late-season run.
Kuhse started the first 13 games of the season at the point before ceding the job to freshman Augustus Marciulionis after a loss to San Diego State, but since Kuhse got off the bench the Gaels are 6-1 overall and 4-3 ATS, including a 67-57 victory over No. 1 Gonzaga.
This Tommy Kuhse backdoor cut 🚪
Watch Indiana vs. Saint Mary’s NOW on TBS ➡️ https://t.co/NscyDkHVYT pic.twitter.com/K0ZoH9rqDm
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 17, 2022
Kuhse, who handles the ball on virtually every possession in the Gaels’ slow-down style, is second on the team in scoring (12.0) and leads in assists (3.6). He is shooting 51 percent, has made 28 of 56 threes and has 24 of his 30 steals in his starts.
Saint Mary’s is 15-4 in his 19 starts.
UCLA, St. Mary’s a Lot Alike
UCLA and St. Mary’s have similar profiles, even if the Bruins get the majority of the pub.
They are two of the most efficient defensive teams in Division, according to KenPom. The Gaels ranked No. 9 in adjusted defensive efficiency entering the NCAA Tournament and the Bruins were No. 13.
Jaquez and Tiger laughing coming out of the huddle is why you trust UCLA — no matter how shaky they’ve been. They’ve been through it all.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) March 18, 2022
They also play at a similarly deliberate pace driven by point guards Kuhse and Campbell. Saint Mary’s averages 60.8 possessions per game per KenPom, 338th among the 358 Division I schools. UCLA averages 65.7 possessions, still in the lower two-thirds of Division I.
UCLA vs Saint Mary’s Prediction
The best March Madness betting strategy for this one is difficult to suss out. Saint Mary’s does not have the athletes that UCLA does, never has, but coach Randy Bennett has a precision system that fits his personnel, freeing a group of spot-shooters while playing at a deliberate tempo that keeps games close.
UCLA was the darling of the 2021 tournament. This time, it is St. Mary’s turn. The Gaels received their school record-high No. 5 seed for a reason.
The pick: Saint Mary’s +3.5 (-110)
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