Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL and NCAA Basketball Previews and Odds - 03/30/2021

by Alec McMordie

The Tuesday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, and the NHL.

The Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament begins with a Tuesday doubleheader at Lucas Oil Stadium. The opener tips off at 7:15 PM ET on TBS with USC playing Gonzaga.

USC reached the West regional final with their 82-68 victory against Oregon as a 2-point favorite on Sunday. The Trojans have won six of their last seven games. Isaiah White paved the way with 22 points. The senior guard is fifth on the team with a 7.7 points-per-game scoring average. Evan Mobley scored 10 points on four of six shooting. The 7’0 freshman leads the team with 16.3 points-per-game and 8.8 rebounds-per-game.

Andy Enfield has led the program to their first Elite 8 in twenty years. They rank sixth in the nation at kenpom with a 25-7 record. They lost in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals to Colorado, which led them to get a six seed in the East region. 

USC ranks 14th in the adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They rebound 35.4% of their missed shots, ranking 12th in the nation. The Trojans are fourth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They are sixth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage with a 43.6% clip due to their stout defense inside the arc as they hold their opponents to 41.5% shooting of their 2-point shots, which is the lowest mark in the nation. Free throw shooting can be frustrating with this team. They only make 64.6% of their shots at the charity stripe, the 327th lowest mark in the nation.

Gonzaga advanced to the Elite 8 with their 83-65 win against Creighton as a 12.5-point favorite on Sunday. Drew Timme scored 22 points while assisting on another four baskets. The sophomore scores 18.9 points-per-game and averages 7.2 rebounds-per-game. Andrew Nembhard had 17 points with eight assists. The junior is fifth on the team with a 9.2 points-per-game scoring average. 

Gonzaga is a 9-point favorite with the total set at 153.5. The winner plays the victor of UCLA/Michigan in the Final Four on Saturday.

UCLA plays Michigan in an Elite 8 matchup in the East region in the nightcap on TBS at 9:57 PM ET. The Bruins advanced to the East regional finals with an 88-78 upset victory in overtime against Alabama as a 5.5-point underdog. The Bruins went into halftime leading by 11 points before the Crimson Tide tied the game by scoring the first 11 points of the second half. UCLA thought they had eked out the win in regulation, but Alabama’s Alex Reese nailed a 28-footer to tie the game and force overtime with just 0.4 seconds left in the game. The Bruins scored 23 points in the extended five-minute session for the win. They joined VCU as the only other team in tournament history to advance to the Elite 8 after playing in one of the First Four games. They were an 11 seed.

Jaime Jaquez led the team with 17 points. The sophomore is averaging 15.0 points-per-game. Johnny Juzang added 13 points before fouling out in regulation. The former Kentucky transfer is scoring 15.0 points-per-game. Four other players scored in double-digits. 

UCLA ranks 16th in the kenpom rankings with a 21-9 record. They are 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. They make 37.2% of their 3-pointers, ranking 34th nationally. The Bruins are 55th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They limit their opponents to rebounding 25.0% of their missed shots, ranking 61st nationally. UCLA has an opponent’s effective field goal percentage of 50.1%, which is the 178th worst mark in the nation.  

Michigan defeated Florida State, 76-58, as a 1.5-point favorite on Sunday to reach the Elite 8. The Wolverines forced ten turnovers in the first half (14 overall) and held the Seminoles to below 60 points for the first time all season. Hunter Dickinson scored 14 points with eight rebounds. The 7’1 freshman is scoring 12.8 points-per-game and averaging 6.5 rebounds-per-game. Franz Wagner contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore has a 12.8 points-per-game and 6.5 rebounds-per-game average. 

The Wolverines continue to thrive even without Isaiah Livers, whose recent stress fracture in his foot officially has him out for the rest of the season. The senior was scoring 13.1 points-per-game while adding 6.0 rebounds-per-game and 2.0 assists-per-game. Junior Brandon Johns takes his place in the starting lineup. The former blue-chip recruit under John Beilein scored 15 points with six rebounds on Sunday. Chaundee Brown is taking more of the scoring burden without Livers. The senior Wake Forest transfer scored 12 points against Florida State. 

Michigan is a 7-point favorite with the total set at 135.5. 

Five games are on the NBA docket. Charlotte visits Washington at 7 PM ET. Denver hosts Philadelphia at 9 PM ET as a 4.5-point favorite with the total at 221. Atlanta plays at Phoenix at 10 PM ET. Orlando travels to Los Angeles to play the Clippers at 10 PM ET.

Seven games are on the NHL schedule. Five games begin the slate at 7 PM ET. Carolina plays at Chicago on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30 PM ET. The Hurricanes are a -152 money line road favorite with an over/under of 6. The card concludes at 8 PM ET with Nashville playing at home against Dallas. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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