The game of the year, baby, let’s get into these UCLA-Gonzaga betting odds!
I don’t know if this is a hot take or not, but I do believe that last year’s Gonzaga-UCLA game in the Final Four was among the five best college basketball games that I have ever seen. The shot-making, the stakes, the overtime, the game-winner. It wasn’t just an incredible finish, either. This was a perfect basketball. Perfect.
And we get a rematch tonight, one that is going to be taking place while the Zags are ranked No. 1 in the country and UCLA is ranked No. 2.
It quite literally cannot possibly get better than that.
So where does the value lie tonight?
GONZAGA vs. UCLA BETTING ODDS
GAME TIME: 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
MONEYLINE: Gonzaga -278 ML, UCLA +230 ML
SPREAD: Gonzaga -6.5
GONZAGA vs. UCLA PREDICTION
This is a fascinating matchup for so many reasons that are centered around the narratives.
No. 1 vs. No. 2.
The battle for supremacy on the west coast.
The rematch of last year’s Final Four thriller.
But there is also quite a bit to talk through when it comes to what is actually going to happen on the court.
First and foremost, there’s Drew Timme. He is the rightful favorite to win the National Player of the Year award. He is the best player in college basketball, he just put up 37 points on Texas and there is a chance that he could end up having one of the best college basketball careers that we have ever seen if he hangs around for another season. He is going to be the guy that UCLA has to build a game plan around stopping, and I think that they will actually have the pieces to be able to do it, at least as well as anyone else in college hoops can.
That’s because Myles Johnson is on this roster. There are a lot of things that Johnson isn’t, but the one thing that he is is a big, physical and tough defensive presence in the paint. Timme is a ballerina with a biker’s facial hair in the paint, but Johnson is going to make him work as much as anyone in the country is going to make him work.
I also really like the matchup for UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez tonight. I think that he will be able to take advantage of Chet Holmgren on the perimeter, and when he’s not on the ball, I think that he will be able to make Holmgren pay for trying to play free safety as a helper.
This is going to be something of a statement game for Holmgren, who did not play well against Texas in his one game against elite competition. I am starting to get a little bit concerned about his fit alongside Timme. Neither of them are really physical enough to deal with powerful five men, and neither of them are really quick enough to guard full time out on the perimeter. Given that Timme is, you know, the best player in the country, I do think that there is a real chance that we could end up seeing quite a bit of Anton Watson tonight.
One thing that I do think is worth noting is that the defensive matchups favor UCLA here as well. What the Bruins are going to do is set ball-screens and force switches until they get the matchups they want, and then attack those matchups. They have dudes that can win on an island. That’s what happened against Villanova and it’s what happens in the tournament run last season. I don’t think the Zags have the players to stop them from getting what they want.
Beyond that, I’m on UCLA here because I just think that 6.5 points is too many points for a matchup between two teams that I think are on the same level. If there is one thing that we have learned about UCLA’s guys it’s that they are fighters. There is no quit. They are going to show up for this game, and I would be very surprised it if wasn’t a one possession game in the final minutes.
So I think all the value is on the underdog here, and while I’ll be on UCLA plus the points, I do think that their money line is worth a sprinkle as well.
I also like the over here. I don’t think either team is going to do much in the way of playing defense or getting stops.
Life is too short to bet the under.