UCLA vs. UNC Asheville: 2023 NCAA Tournament Odds, Preview & Predictions

Mar 12, 2023 - 11:25 PM

March Madness is officially here! The 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket has been announced, and the teams are lining up for the Big Dance. Let’s take a look at the early odds, preview, and predictions for the 2023 NCAA Tournament Round 1 game: UCLA vs. UNC Asheville.

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2023 NCAA Tournament Guide (March Madness)

2023 March Madness Odds, Preview & Predictions: UCLA vs. UNC Asheville

UCLA vs. UNC Asheville Odds, Spread & Match Up Overview

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UCLA 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview

After ranking eighth in the preseason AP poll, the Bruins have impressed all season, quietly turning in one of the best seasons in college hoops. Journeyman Tyger Campbell has continued leading this team, with Jaime Jaquez posting one of the best seasons in DI basketball. This squad still has the reminants of the team that made the 2021 Final Four as an 11-seed. Can they run it back with the current crew?

If UCLA does plan on making a trip to Houston, the Bruins will ride their defense. Ranking in the top five in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, UCLA is a stingy team whose defense doesn’t get enough credit. The Bruins force turnovers without fouling at a high rate and take away anything on the outside. Even when Arizona, one of the best offenses in the nation, defeated UCLA back in January, the Wildcats failed to eclipse 60 points. The Bruins’ slower pace and elite defense can help them hang tough against any team. In the loss to Arizona, UCLA scored only 52 points. I wouldn’t exactly say the Bruins’ offense is a problem, but it is not as elite as their 12th-ranked offense from last year.

While they take care of the ball well and rebound at a high clip, UCLA is not exactly a high-scoring team, ranking outside the top 100 in both 3pt and 2pt shooting. While the Bruins can keep up with any team, nearly any team can keep with the Bruins, and we’ve seen them have some close calls against teams like Washington State and Colorado. Any team with a focused interior defense will give UCLA problems in March. What else makes me hesitant about sending the Bruins deep is their strength of schedule. UCLA lost to four of the six tournament teams they faced this year, which gives me pause in picking them for a deep run. But Mick Cronin has obviously been here before, and this team has plenty of tournament experience. The Bruins are absolutely in the small tier of championship-caliber teams, but they don’t exactly have a high floor either.

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UNC Asheville 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview

The winners of the Big South Tournament enter the Big Dance having won nine straight games and 18 of their last 19.

UNC Asheville is led by Drew Pember, the Big South Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year, who paced the team in points and rebounds per game. He is an elite athlete with true next-level potential, as he can shoot from beyond the arc to go along with his facilitating abilities. Pember will be a problem for any opponent. Taijon Jones is one of the best sharpshooters in the nation at 45 percent, and Ashville can get to the hoop as well, with a top-15 free throw rate. The Bulldogs’ depth may be an issue against a fast-paced or physical team, however, as they rank outside the top 270 in bench minutes. But the Bulldogs are well coached, with an above-average defense that won’t allow much from beyond the arc. At the least, they should put up a fight against whatever team they face.

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