NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Akron vs UCLA

Game Over Name: St. Mary’s will handle UCLA

March 19, 2022

Saint Mary’s (5) vs. UCLA (4)

Moda Center – Portland, OR
7:10 PM ET
UCLA -3.0

No longer should St. Mary’s be considered a “nice story.” That wouldn’t be fair to the Gaels, a team that’s been playing extremely well of late. They rolled Indiana in the first round, a 29-point blowout fueled by outstanding guard play – a must in March.

Conversely, UCLA, a household name when it comes to the tourney, hasn’t been impressive of late. The Bruins signature wins this season took place early – beating Villanova back in November and Arizona on Jan. 25 – and they really haven’t done anything eye-opening since. Against 12-seed Akron in round one UCLA looked pedestrian, narrowly advancing with a sluggish 57-53 win.

It feels as if the Gaels are only getting better, while UCLA’s clock is ticking. If you’re looking for a direct comparable, look no further than each team’s head-to-head matchup against No.1 Gonzaga. St. Mary’s made headlines by handing the Zags their only conference loss in late February and more recently lost respectably in the WCC Conference Championship game. UCLA, on the other hand, was blown out by Gonzaga in late November.

Don’t be fooled by the names; ride the hot hand and go all in on St. Mary’s.

Hoops Harlen’s pick: St. Mary’s M/L (+135)

Saturday Quick Picks

Baylor -5.0 (-240)
Kansas -12 (-280)

Friday’s Winners

Notre Dame +4.0 (-110)
Iowa State +4.0 (-110)