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No. 6 BYU vs. No. 11 UCLA preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The BYU Cougars and UCLA Bruins meet at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

BYU forward Matt Haarms (3) and BYU guard Alex Barcello (13) look on during the championship game of the men’s West Coast Conference basketball tournament between the BYU Cougars and the Gonzaga Bulldogs on March 9, 2021, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

March 19 update: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 6 BYU vs. No. 11 UCLA as of March 19th at 11 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

BYU: -3.5: 51% of action, 38% of bets
UCLA: +3.5: 49% of action, 62% of bets

Over 139: 75% of action, 79% of bets
Under 139: 25% of action, 21% of bets


The No. 11 UCLA Bruins survived an overtime thriller with the Michigan State Spartans in the First Four, and their reward is a quality No. 6 BYU Cougars team that scores as well as any team in America. The game will be at legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday night, and broadcast live on CBS.

No. 6 BYU: 20-6 (10-3 WCC): At-large

KenPom rating: 24 Overall, 27 Offense, 26 Defense
NET ranking: 20, (3-4 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Alex Barcello, 15.9 ppg
Key stat: Three of the Cougars four losses since 2021 began are to No. 1 Gonzaga.

BYU brings an elite offense and defense to the tournament, but flies under the radar nationally because of the stranglehold the Zags have on the West Coast Conference. Their average loss in three games against the dynasty in their league was by 12.6 points, which honestly should get them better than a No. 6 seed.

Three senior starters in Barcello, Brandon Averette, and Matt Haarms all average over double figures. Barcello is the sharpshooter as well, knocking down 48 of 100 three-point attempts so far this season.

No. 11 UCLA: 18-9 (13-6 Pac-12): At-large, defeated Michigan State 86-80 (OT) in First Four

KenPom rating: 44 Overall, 25 Offense, 89 Defense
NET ranking: 46 (2-6 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Johnny Juzang, 14.0 ppg
Key stat: The Bruins have not beaten a team in regulation since February 25th.

The team that had blown so many double-digit leads in March finally overcomes a big deficit themselves, climbing back to force overtime after being down 11 at halftime. It felt as much like a Sparty implosion, however the Bruins took advantage of the mistakes and did well on the glass late.

But the question will be about the status Juzang, who rolled his ankle late against the Spartans, and had to be carried off the court. The win moved Mick Cronin to 5-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: BYU -3.5
Point total: 138.5
Moneyline: N/A

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: BYU -3.5
Point total pick: Under 138.5
Pick to Win: BYU

We’re speculating here, but the injury to Juzang certainly looked bad enough where he might not be able to go on Saturday night. Add to that a rested BYU team that is as efficient on both ends of the floor as any non-power conference team that’s not the tournament favorite, and you’ve got a recipe for a blowout. UCLA survived but hardly thrived Thursday night.

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