Michigan State vs UCLA March Madness Odds, Picks and Predictions March 18

Updated: March 14, 2021

Jason Logan
Clock Icon Mar 14, 2021 – 11:02 PM ET

A pair of college basketball blue bloods face off in a First Four game that sounds more like a Final Four showdown, with the Michigan State Spartans taking on the UCLA Bruins for a No. 11 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament Thursday.

Michigan State was a one-and-done in the Big Ten tournament, but did just enough to earn a First Four spot and March Madness odds have them entering their matchup as favorites. UCLA ended the Pac-12 slate on a three-game losing slide and then bowed out to Oregon State in the conference tournament.

Here are our March Madness picks and predictions for Michigan State vs. UCLA in the First Four on March 18.

Michigan State vs UCLA odds

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The Spartans opened as 1-point chalk for this First Four matchup and jumped to -1.5 with early money on MSU. The total opened at 137.5 points and ticked down to 136.5 with money on the Under. Check back later for a full report from Patrick!

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Michigan State Spartans vs UCLA Bruins betting preview


Michigan State: Foster Loyer G (Out).
UCLA: Jalen Hill F (Out).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

UCLA is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games overall. Find more NCAA betting trends for Michigan State vs. UCLA.

Against the spread (ATS) pick

The Spartans made an early exit from the Big Ten tournament, losing to Maryland in the quarterfinals, but a win over No. 1 Michigan in the season finale pushed MSU off the bubble and into a First Four spot.

Michigan State had a strong February after a dismal start to the 2020-21 campaign and finished 5-2 ATS in the final seven regular season outings, before coughing up the ball 18 times and shooting just 4-for-16 from 3-point range in the postseason loss to the Terrapins.

That’s still much more momentum than what the Bruins bring to Indianapolis. UCLA has lost four in a row, with all four of those losses coming after second-half collapses. Mick Cronin’s kids had an early 16-point lead versus the Beavers in the Pac-12 quarterfinals but fell apart down the stretch and eventually lost in overtime.

Tom Izzo is always a tough fade come tournament time and since we can’t trust this inexperienced UCLA squad to keep it together for 40 minutes, our money is on Michigan State.

PREDICTION: Michigan State -1.5 (-110) 

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Over/Under Pick

The Spartans trademark defense has been a little off this season but started to tighten up at the right time, with Michigan State holding five of its last six opponents to under 70 points. 

Even in the loss to Maryland, MSU left the Terps to shoot just 38 percent from the field, including 6-for-20 from 3-point range. The Spartans rank 32nd in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency and have stayed Under the number in six straight games, going back to February 25.

The Bruins run a slowed-down efficient attack, averaging 18.6 seconds per possession, and posted 67 points per game during this four-game losing skid. UCLA is sound from beyond the arc but doesn’t drop a lot from distance, with just 21 total made 3-pointers in its last four outings. 

Defensively, UCLA is 86th in adjusted efficiency and does a solid job on the glass, owning a defensive rebound rate of 78.4 percent (29th), which should help keep an inconsistent MSU attack off the offensive boards.

PREDICTION: Under 137.5 (-110)

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First half prop

The Spartans offense picks up an average of 32.3 first-half points on the season but has been painfully slow out of the blocks over its last five games. Michigan State has posted scores of 30, 30, 28, 26 and 25 in the opening 20 minutes in each of those contests. 

The Bruins held their last two opponents – USC and Oregon State – to 24 and 25 first-half points respectively and give up just 31.8 average points in the first half on the season. Knowing what can lurk in the second half, Mick Cronin will want to put on the clamps early into this First Four matchup.

PREDICTION: Michigan State first-half team total Under 32.5 (-110)

Michigan State vs UCLA betting card

  • Michigan State -1.5 (-110) 
  • Under 137.5 (-110)
  • Michigan State first-half team total Under 32.5 (-110)

March Madness parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed today’s March Madness Michigan State vs. UCLA picks, you could win $59.58 on a $10 bet?

Use our March Madness parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

Where can I bet on March Madness odds?

March Madness is one of the most popular times of the year for sports bettors, which of course makes it one of the busiest times of the year for online sportsbooks. Every betting site will offer March Madness odds but the top sites are safe and secure, offer a wide range of banking options, and give you a ton of markets for each game. Check out the best March Madness betting sites in your region.

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