NCAA Tournament odds: No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA
Only a few lower-seeded teams are underdogs in the Round of 64, but No. 6 UCLA is one of them opening as a 3-point dog to No. 11 but very athletic Minnesota for Friday’s game in Austin. Check our current lines.
The Bruins enter having lost one of their best players and second-leading scorer, freshman guard Jordan Adams, in the Pac-12 Tournament. It’s a devastating blow to the Bruins’ chances of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament, as the injury further depletes a thin roster, but the Bruins have no choice but to adjust and adapt on the fly. The loss of Adams leaves a lot of holes on the floor for UCLA. He was averaging 15.3 points and 3.8 rebounds and had a conference-leading 73 steals. He was capable of carrying the team offensively for stretches — as he did with 24 points in his final game of the season — and was always assigned to defend the opposing team’s top wing player.
Norman Powell is now starting in place of Adams. Kyle Anderson will be asked to play some small forward after playing mostly power forward this season. Larry Drew II will have to become a shooting guard at times after spending the season as one of the nation’s premier point guards. Everyone, including little-used center Tony Parker, will get an increase in minutes.
These Bruins are not physical on the glass and, subsequently, are a poor rebounding team. In fact, no team in the Pac-12 is worse and among teams in serious discussion for making the tournament, only La Salle was worse than UCLA’s 247th national ranking in rebounding margin. This could be the final game for UCLA freshman star Shabazz Muhammad and maybe Coach Ben Howland as well if the Bruins falter.
The Golden Gophers were once ranked No. 8 in the country with a 15-1 record — the only blemish being a loss to Duke. But in a season with more rises, dips and potholes than a San Francisco street, Tubby Smith’s team was lucky just to make the field of 68 as the Gophers finished 20-12.
The Golden Gophers have multiple scoring options on offense. Up front, they feature a double-double machine in Trevor Mbakwe and an unsung senior forward in 1,000-point scorer Rodney Williams. In the backcourt, coach Tubby Smith has two double-figure scorers named Hollins — Austin (the son of former NBA player Lionel Hollins) and Andre. Minnesota ranks 239th in the nation in 3-point efficiency with Andre Hollins (40.1 percent from 3-point range) being the team’s only feared long-distance shooter. That’s why zone defenses have been an effective way to slow the Gophers down.
Minnesota is No. 17 in the nation in total rebounding with 38.8 per game and led the Big Ten in rebounding margin (+8.2). Mbakwe leads all Big Ten players in rebounding and is third in the conference in blocked shots (48)
Minnesota is the No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history. The Gophers’ previous appearances were during 1989, when they knocked off No. 6 seed Kansas State, 86-75, and No. 14 Siena (80-67) to reach the Sweet 16 before falling to second-seeded Duke, 87-70. Minnesota lost to No. 6 Xavier 76-62 in the 2010 tournament.
The Gophers are 1-5 all-time against UCLA, although the win has since been vacated. It occurred when No. 1 seed Minnesota beat No. 2 seed UCLA in the 1997 Midwest Regional Final, 80-72, in San Antonio to advance to the Final Four. UCLA will be Minnesota’s 11th game against a team ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time of the game. The Gophers are 5-5 in those games.
WagerWeb.com trends: Golden Gophers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. loss. Golden Gophers are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall. Golden Gophers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games. Golden Gophers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss. Bruins are 7-20 ATS in their last 27 neutral site games. Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games. Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.