The NCAA March Madness has already hit the second round program and it means that the elite teams are going to square off soon. The earlier rounds are usually a breeze for the teams that are ranked high by the AP Poll but there is always an upset or two on the way. Will the Northwestern Wildcats pull off an upset as they take on UCLA Bruins?
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UCLA comes into the game after thoroughly dominating UNC Asheville and capturing a humungous 86:53 win behind 17 points performances by Jaime Jaquez and Amari Bailey. Jaime was also the leading rebounder, pouncing upon eight boards whereas Tyger Campbell was the leading playmaker with 10 assists. UCLA shot 54% but their horrid time from the three-point line continued as they made just five on 31.3%. However, it is their defense which is the calling card and they limited UNC to just 37.3% while forcing 16 turnovers in another defense clinic under the tutelage of coach Mike Cronin.
Northwestern enters the affair after pinching out a 75:67 win against Boise State. Boo Buie scored 22 whereas Chase Audige poured 20 and these combined 44 points were a huge boost. The team shot an efficient 49.1% and made most of their inside scoring. They committed just seven turnovers but also had just nine assists, which is way below the nation’s average. However, this is a team that relies a ton on its defense and it came to their rescue again. The Wildcats limited Boise State to 40% from the field and just 26.1% from the three-point line. They will have to take care of the rebounding end as the Wildcats were outrebounded 8:18 in terms of offensive rebounds.
UCLA’s defense has been one of the best in the nation and it was in full flow during the first round. The Northwestern defensive unit is tight too and UCLA may need to knock down some jumpers to build space, something they have been unable to do all season long. However, the physicality of UCLA keeps them in games and the Wildcats may be in for a tricky one here. Anyway, I back UCLA to win by 10+ points.
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