The No. 7 seed Northwestern Wildcats will be taking on the No. 2 seed UCLA Bruins in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 8:40 p.m. ET from Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California (TNT).
The Wildcats opened tournament play with a 75-67 win over No. 10 seed Boise State on Thursday night, dealing the Mountain West conference another postseason loss. Northwestern received great performances from senior guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige. Buie posted a game-high 22 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Meanwhile, Audige scored 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 shooting from three-point range. He also added six rebounds, four steals, and two assists in 38 minutes. As a team, the Wildcats shot 49.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, they put on a masterclass, holding the Broncos to 26.1 percent shooting from three-point range. Northwestern will need that same defensive intensity, especially if they want to upset the Bruins.
As for the Bruins, they cruised past No. 15 seed UNC-Asheville in an 86-53 blowout. UCLA jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first half and did not look back. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and freshman Amari Bailey were the leading scorers for the Bruins with 17 points apiece. Senior guard Tyger Campbell pitched in with seven points and a game-high 10 assists for UCLA. The Bruins held UNC-Asheville’s leading scorer Drew Pember to 13 points and limited the Bulldogs to just 37.3 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. The Bruins also crushed the Bulldog on the boards (40-25) and forced UNC-Asheville into 16 turnovers.
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Here’s everything to know about betting on Northwestern vs. UCLA in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends, and our prediction for the second-round matchup.
Northwestern vs. UCLA odds
Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction
UCLA enters Saturday night’s game as a 7.5-point favorite over Northwestern. The point total is set at a low 127 points, which isn’t surprising because the Bruins had the fifth-best scoring defense in the country during the regular season (60.1 points per game allowed).
- Spread: -7.5
- Over/under: 127
- Moneyline: UCLA (+264), Northwestern (-321)
Three betting trends to watch
— The Bruins are 20-10-1 against the spread this season as a favorite and 29-2 straight up on the moneyline.
— UCLA is also 4-2-1 ATS on a neutral court and 8-4 ATS in non-conference teams this season.
— The Wildcats have thrived as an underdog this season, going 11-5 ATS. However, the total has gone UNDER in 10 out of 16 games when they are the underdog.
Northwestern key players
The Wildcats are led by seniors Buie and Audige, who played a huge role in their first-round win over Boise State. Buie and Audige were named to the All-Big Ten’s second team, and Audige was also named Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. Buie is recording 17.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game this season, and he even though he doesn’t shoot the ball well from beyond the arc (31.3 percent), he still finds a way to create offense for himself. Meanwhile, Audige is averaging 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.4 steals (second in the Big Ten and 11th in the NCAA). Additionally, UCLA must watch out for junior guard Ty Berry, who played well in Thursday’s win over Boise State. He had 13 points (5/7 FG, 3/4 3pt) and dished out six assists.
UCLA key players
The Bruins are led by senior Jaime Jaquez Jr., who was named to the All-Pac-12 first team, Consensus All-American second team, and was the player of the year in the Pac-12. The senior guard is averaging an impressive 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. However, Jaquez doesn’t do everything by himself, as the Bruins also have Tyger Campbell (13.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 2.6 RPG), Amari Bailey (10.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG), and David Singleton (9.2 PPG and 2.7 RPG). Singleton is the team’s best three-point shooter (43.2 percent). Finally, the Bruins are without Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Jaylen Clark, who suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury in the team’s regular-season finale.
Best individual matchup: Boo Buie vs. Tyger Campbell
In March, you often win games due to defense and excellent play from your guards. This game features a couple of solid floor generals in Buie and Campbell. Campbell isn’t a scorer like Buie, but he was named to the All-Pac-12 first-team and is an excellent defensive point guard (95.4 DRtg). Campbell’s job will be to get his teammates involved on offense and stop Buie from getting to his spots on defense. Buie has scored 20 or more points in six out of his past nine games. During those six games, the Wildcats have a record of 4-2. UCLA cannot let the senior guard dictate the pace on Saturday night.
Northwestern vs. UCLA stat to know
The Wildcats scored 75 points in their first-round victory over Boise State on Thursday, but they might have some issues scoring against UCLA’s defense. The Bruins have the fifth-best scoring defense in the country and allow opponents to shoot just 40.6 percent from the field (27th in the NCAA). They also own the fourth-best defensive rating (89.3). Northwestern isn’t great offensively, but it can defend, as well — 95.4 DRtg (36th in the country). Don’t be surprised if we have a low-scoring first half while both teams try to figure out what each side is doing.
DeCourcy (Alabama) | Bender (Kansas) | Fagan (Marquette) | Pohnl (Kansas)
Northwestern vs. UCLA prediction
Both teams can play excellent defense and have guards who can take over games. However, we like UCLA to come away with the win and cover the spread. The Wildcats lost the battle on the glass in their first-round win, but this time it will hurt them, as the Bruins are averaging 35.8 rebounds per game. UCLA also shoots the three-ball better (34.6 percent), giving it a decisive advantage against Northwestern.
Prediction: UCLA 68, Northwestern 60. UCLA (-7.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (127).
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