The final game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight on Tuesday features No. 11 seed UCLA against No. 1 Michigan for the East Region title from Indianapolis.
The Wolverines are 6.5-point favourites on the college basketball odds with a total of 135.
UCLA vs. Michigan NCAA Tournament Point Spread and Betting
The winner faces either No. 6 USC or No. 1 and unbeaten Gonzaga in the Final Four next Saturday, and it’s a guarantee that will be the prime-time game over Houston vs. Baylor no matter which matchup it is. Yes, there could be an all-Los Angeles national semifinal but not likely. Gonzaga would be favoured over both these teams.
The worst seed to ever make a Final Four is a No. 11, so UCLA could tie that. No. 12 Oregon State, also in the Pac-12, was knocked off Monday in the Elite Eight by No. 2 Houston. The Bruins also could become the second team to go from the First Four to the Final Four, joining VCU in 2011.
UCLA is 12-6 all-time against Michigan and 3-1 in four NCAA Tournament games. They haven’t played in the Big Dance since 1998 or in the regular season since December 2017. The Bruins are 4-1 against the spread in their past five NCAA Tournament games as underdogs. The Wolverines are 13-4-2 ATS in their past 19 NCAA Tournament games as favourites.
While I feel confident that I will have predicted half the Final Four right with Baylor and Gonzaga (I’m assuming the Bulldogs win Tuesday), I didn’t have UCLA coming near this far and in fact the Bruins should have lost to Michigan State in the First Four but rallied back to win in overtime. Wins over No. 6 BYU and No. 14 Abilene Christian weren’t total shocks, but upsetting No. 2 and SEC regular-season and tournament champion Alabama 88-78 in OT on Sunday sure was. UCLA shook off leading scorer Johnny Juzang fouling out and a Tide buzzer-beating three-pointer to send it to OT.
The Bruins are in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008 and for the fourth time since 2006. They play at a really slow pace and clearly frustrated Alabama, which was just 7-for-28 from three-point range. UCLA also ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 in fewest turnovers per game (10.7).
Michigan lost one of its best players in senior Isaiah Livers to injury in the Big Ten Tournament, but the Wolverines haven’t missed him too much – Livers will not play Tuesday and probably not at all even if U-M advances – in winning every NCAA Tournament game by at least eight points. This writer thought No. 4 Florida State had a good chance of pulling the upset Sunday, but Michigan rolled 76-58 as FSU didn’t have an answer for 7-foot-1 Wolverines freshman star Hunter Dickinson. He had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Michigan dominated the paint in outscoring FSU there 50-28. U-M will have the size advantage again here.
Since 2013, U-M has advanced to four (out of eight) NCAA Elite Eights — one of four teams to do so. Former Fab Five star Juwan Howard is the only person to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as both a coach and player.