UCLA vs Alabama March Madness Odds, Picks and Predictions March 28

Updated: March 23, 2021

Jason Logan
Clock Icon Mar 23, 2021 – 9:31 AM ET

The No. 11 UCLA Bruins are officially the Cinderella of the East Region and hope the clock doesn’t strike midnight when they face the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

The Bruins easily dispatched upstart Abilene Christian in the Round of 32, marking their third NCAA win in five days after emerging from the First Four play-in round. The Crimson Tide left no doubt as to why they’re among the contenders to win the Big Dance, blowing away Maryland by 19 points Monday.

Check out our free March Madness picks and predictions for UCLA vs. Alabama on March 28.

UCLA vs Alabama odds

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Alabama opened as large as a 5.5-point favorite but early action on UCLA trimmed the spread to -5. The total hit the board at 144 points and is down to 142.5. Check back later for a full report from Patrick!

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UCLA Bruins vs Alabama Crimson Tide betting preview


UCLA: Jalen Hill F (Out).
Alabama: None.
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Crimson Tide are 23-10 ATS in their last 33 games following an ATS win. Find more NCAA betting trends for UCLA vs. Alabama.

Against the spread (ATS) pick

I’ve faded the Bruins in three straight March Madness games, and I’ve lost all three. UCLA has silenced doubters – and disgruntled sports bettors – with its magical week in Indianapolis, going through Michigan State, BYU and Abilene Christian (and my pockets) to make the Sweet 16. Now the question remains: Can the Bruins keep that momentum until Sunday?

In its current form, UCLA does the right things to hang with up-tempo Alabama. Mick Cronin’s kids run a methodical pace with the basketball, ranking 337th in tempo and eating up 18.8 seconds of shot clock per possession. The Bruins also take care of the basketball (turnovers on only 16.1 percent of possessions), hit the boards hard for a team that isn’t that big (52.9 rebound rate—49th) and the size that they do have is quite athletic and versatile.

Alabama, as proven by its one-sided ass waxing of Maryland, is a handful. The Crimson Tide ran the Terrapins – another plodding-paced program – out of the gym on Monday night, firing at a 53 percent clip from the field and knocking down 16 of 33 looks from beyond the arc.

Nate Oats’ breakneck offense is a stark contrast to that of UCLA, sitting 10th in tempo and firing up shots just 14 seconds into their offensive sets. The closest thing the Bruins have seen to this trigger-happy pace is Arizona State (21st in tempo) and UCLA edged the speedy Sun Devils by one point (failed to cover -7.5) at home and won 81-75 in overtime at ASU back in January.

It’s safe to say the Crimson Tide are a few “quadrants” higher than the Sun Devils. And while I think UCLA will show some fight in this Sweet 16 showdown, the gap between games could be their worst enemy. The Bruins are about to turn back into a Pac-12 pumpkin. POOF!

PREDICTION: Alabama -5 (-110)

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Over/Under Pick

The Bruins may take their sweet-ass time on offense but it’s paying off in the postseason. UCLA is among the most efficient offenses in the country during its three-game tourney run and is shooting a collective 47 percent in those games, including a 25-for-53 clip from downtown (also 47 percent).

Slowing down Bama is incredibly hard, so UCLA is going to have to punch back if it’s going to stay within striking distance. The Bruins can chew up all the shot clock they want, but unless those sets end in buckets (and not just 2-point makes), UCLA is going to dig itself a deep hole.

Alabama’s offensive output is no secret. The Tide push the ball in transition, where they attempt 34.5 percent of their shots, and let it fly from beyond the arc, picking up 39.7 percent of their total points scored from distance.

The Bruins aren’t the best transition defense, nor do they protect the 3-point arc that well, playing under screens and giving room to outside shooters. In those two aforementioned matchups with Arizona State, both finals topped totals of 143 and 145.5 points—and those were both above where we’re currently at for Sunday’s number.

PREDICTION: Over 142.5 (-110)

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First half prop pick

UCLA is a first-half team. Just ask bettors who suffered through their four-game losing streak heading into the First Four game—all of those losses came on blown second-half leads.

The Bruins have continued to produce in the initial 20 minutes of the tournament, posting scores of 38, 33, and 31 points in the Big Dance. They scored 34 points in the first half versus Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament (before falling apart) and averaged 35.8 first-half points in the five final games of the regular season.

Alabama watched Maryland put 38 points on the board in the first 20 minutes of Monday’s contest, allowed Iona to score 32 first-half points in the Round of 64, and allowed 37 and 40 points in the first halves versus LSU and Tennessee in the SEC Tournament.

As mentioned, I see UCLA putting up a fight in this game before succumbing to the Tide down the stretch. The bulk of that fight will come in the first half.

PREDICTION: UCLA first-half team total Over 32.5 (-108)

UCLA vs Alabama betting card

  • Alabama -5 (-110)
  • Over 142.5 (-110)
  • UCLA first-half team total Over 32.5 (-108)

March Madness parlays

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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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