Those people who follow college basketball betting closely might come to a rather unanimous agreement that if you let the UCLA Bruins get hot from the floor, there to be very hard to stop in this NCAA Tournament. Of course, what they have to do is to avoid looking past the lesser teams as they move closer to what their eventual goal is. This program has made unbelievable strides in the space of a year, going from and also-ran to one of the top teams in the country, and they open up their activity in the Big Dance on Friday night against the Kent State Golden Flashes, in a game that begins at 9:55 PM ET at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Remember that BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to place wagers while this game is happening, as they take advantage of all that is available from the state-of-the-art software of Live Betting Ultra.
UCLA vs Kent State – March Madness Betting Line:
In the college basketball betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, UCLA is laying a lot of points:
UCLA Bruins -18
Kent State Golden Flashes +18
Over 161.5 points -110
Under 161.5 points -110
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UCLA vs Kent State – CJ’s Take:
Right now UCLA is ranked sixth in the coaches poll and eighth by the Associated Press, although that’s really a moot issue right now. They are one of the favorites to get to the Final Four, and they would seem to have all the offensive components in place to get that done. They also have a couple of fabulous freshmen who are ready to shine in the national spotlight. Lonzo Ball is one of them; the 6-6 point guard has averaged almost 15 points per game, along with 7.8 assists, and he can take matters into his own hands whatever he wants. The other freshman is TJ Leaf, the native of Israel who, at 6-10, can play either inside or outside for coach Steve Alford. He hit 63% of his shots this season.
Kent State won the Mid-American Conference tournament, slowing down three opponents in the process. But this is clearly a “virgin” experience for them, as they did not play one team that made the NCAA Tournament field during the non-conference part of their schedule. It has been nine years since Kent has been in this situation.
UCLA did not win the Pac 12 tournament championship; they went cold from three-point range, making just four of their 25 shots in the title game against Arizona, and as a result, they fell by double digits. But when you look at this team, it is rather remarkable what they are capable of when they are operating with all pistons pumping. At any given time, they can put four different players on the floor who can make 40% from downtown. They were #3 in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency according to the analytics site KenPom.com, and they were #1 in effective field goal percentage. They were third-best in two-point accuracy, and sithx-best in three-point shooting. They also got their shots blocked less frequently than any other team in the nation. What they don’t do so well is go to the free-throw line; indeed, they have one of the lower ratios of free throws to field-goal attempts in the country.
One of the biggest strengths for Kent State is their ability to hit the offensive glass. They pulled down 38.1% of all opportunities this season, ranking them fifth in the nation, and this is an area (defensive rebounding) where UCLA certainly not among the nation’s best. Of course, in order to get an offensive rebound one has to miss a shot, and Kent State did that plenty, from three-point range in particular, as they shot only 31.4%, which put them well down the list among the nation’s 351 Division I squads.
The Golden Flashes will need to defend, and we don’t necessarily have a lot of confidence in that area of their game. All told, they are 133rd in Adjusted defensive efficiency and that’s not going to cut it against a UCLA squad that can hit from anywhere.
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