The Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament will tip off tonight and the second matchup of the West Region will feature the No. 2 UCLA Bruins battling the No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs. The game will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, with the tip estimated for 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS.
Let’s run through this matchup and see how this will play out.
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA Prediction
UCLA enters this game as a tight, one-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook with the total installed at 145.5. The means Vegas is predicting a fun, toss up of a contest that will be decided in the final minute of play. That’s for good reason as both of these West Coast powers will be well represented in a rowdy atmosphere in the West Coast center of college basketball.
This will be a battle of best-on-best with Gonzaga possessing the top ranked offense in adjusted efficiency on KenPom while UCLA possesses the No. 2 ranked defense in the same category. Drew Timme and the Bulldogs are shooting a nation-best 52.6% from the field and have been one of the most careful teams with a turnover rate of just 14.7%. That is in contrast with the Bruins, who boast the 11th-highest turnover rate at 23.4%. The team is collectively averaging 8.4 steals per game and was led in that category by Jaylen Clark before he went down with an Achilles injury.
On the other end of the floor, however, UCLA holds the metrics advantage with the 21st ranked offense in adjusted efficiency vs. Gonzaga’s 75th ranked in defense. The Zags have been susceptible to giving up points with opponents shooting 44.4% against them. That has led to them being involved in several shootouts this season and the experienced Bruins has the personnel that can keep pace.
Speaking of pace, Gonzaga likes to play fast on the offensive end and I anticipate it trying to turn this into a track meet right out the gate. But like I just said, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell, and company are equipped to go blow-for-blow should their defense not hold up the way it normally does. This one should come down to the wire and considering that the Bruins arguably should’ve been a No. 1 seed in this tournament, I’ll defer to them to get the last laugh.
Prediction: UCLA 80, Gonzaga 78