The UCLA Bruins kept their season alive with a victory over the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four play-in games. The Bruins will now face the East Region's 6th seed, the BYU Cougars, in what will be a great battle to kick off March Madness 2021.
The UCLA Bruins finished with an 18-9 overall record, earning them fourth place in the PAC-12 standings.
Meanwhile, the BYU Cougars are making their fifth March Madness appearance in the last decade, building quite the reputation as strong contenders out of the WCC. They have a great offense, averaging nearly 79 points per game, with three players averaging double-digit points.
Fixture: BYU Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins - March Madness 2021
Date & Time: Saturday, March 20th, 2021, 9:40 PM ET
Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
March Madness 2021 Bets: BYU Cougars vs UCLA Bruins betting odds, lines, and over/under
The first round of March Madness 2021 features many intriguing matchups, but the battle between these West Coast powerhouses could be the best one yet. The BYU Cougars should have the advantage offensively, averaging nearly six more points per game than the UCLA Bruins.
The Cougars will look to get open looks from three-point range and let their shooters do damage. If the UCLA defenders are able to apply pressure on the perimeter, they could hang around long enough to escape with a first-round upset victory.
Alex Barcello and Caleb Lohner could be the key players for the BYU Cougars on Saturday night.
Barcello, a senior, leads the Cougars offense with just under 16 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Freshman Caleb Lohner has put up big numbers in his debut season, averaging a team-high seven rebounds per game and making his presence felt in the paint.
When the Cougars take on the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, both Barcello and Lohner will need to contribute on both ends to secure a victory and advance to the second round.
The UCLA Bruins were off to an outstanding start, keeping momentum up until the tail-end of the season. Unfortunately, they carry a four-game losing streak into this first-round matchup, claiming an overall record of 18-9 on the season.
The key players for the UCLA Bruins are Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. The duo of sophomore guards have combined for 27 points and 10 rebounds per game and will need more of the same on Saturday night.
The UCLA Bruins will be the underdogs, but their talented roster could surprise the BYU Cougars and lead them to a huge upset victory.
BYU Cougars: -4 (-110)
UCLA Bruins: +4 (-110)
BYU Cougars: -190
UCLA Bruins: +160
Over: 139 (-110)
Under: 139 (-110)
BYU vs UCLA Prediction
The BYU Cougars are the four-point favorites in their first-round matchup with the UCLA Bruins. The UCLA Bruins will be the underdogs as the 11th seed, but their defensive performance could keep them within striking distance.
With an over/under set at 139, the oddsmakers are expecting a low-scoring affair, but the edge will go to the BYU Cougars and their experienced shooters.