March Madness: UCLA vs Michigan St, Tyger Prop

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Vaughn Dalzell
·5 min read
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Michigan State (-2) vs. UCLA

The nightcap will be a fight for both team's tournament lives and I cannot wait. Tom Izzo and the Spartans are in March and typically, that means bad news for the opposing team. After a disappointing loss to Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, expect a different Michigan State squad versus UCLA.

The Spartans are the 12th-tallest team in the tournament and a solid rebounding squad, ranking top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The Bruins also rank top 100 in both categories, but there has been a difference over the last five games.

Michigan State is averaging 35.8 rebounds per game and UCLA is at 31.0. Over the previous three and 10 game splits, it is more of the same.

The Spartans are going to have to knock down the three if they want to win. UCLA allows opponents to hit 35.1% from three and that number got much worse in conference play (37.6%). Michigan State has shot the three at 24.6% over the last five games and 30.3% over the past 10.

UCLA plays at a slow tempo, ranking eighth-slowest in the tournament field. Michigan State is one-of-12 teams to average 70 or fewer points per game in the field. The Bruins have struggled to score as well, only surpassing 63 points in two of the last four games, all losses.

A slow-paced game would play into Michigan State's hands, while a high-scoring game would go to UCLA. The Bruins shot 25% from three and in the last five road or neutral court games, UCLA has hit 33% or fewer in four games.

Both teams have been dreadful ATS this season. Michigan State ranks worst in the field at 9-18 ATS on the season, while UCLA is 12-14 ATS, the sixth-worst. UCLA enters 4-6 SU in the last 10 games and 1-5 SU in the past five.

Michigan State is 2-3 SU over the previous five games and 5-3 SU in the last eight. Although, Michigan State has the more impressive wins during that eight-game stretch, including wins over Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State.

Michigan State and UCLA met once in 2018 and another time in 2019. The Spartans won both meetings 87-67 and 75-62. I will back Izzo and the Spartans to advance and earn the third straight win over the Bruins.

Coaching will impact this game, as well as three-point shooting and rebounding. I expect Michigan State to win at least two of those three battles and ultimately win the game.

Game Pick: Michigan State ML (1u)

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Michigan State (-2) vs. UCLA

A player prop I am targeting is UCLA's, Tyger Campbell. His point prop is a lowly 8.5 today, something he should go over with the amount of minutes he plays. Campbell leads the Bruins in minutes with 34.0 per game over 26 games.

The sophomore guard played in every game for UCLA this season, playing at least 27 minutes in every game too. With a play-in opportunity, I expect at least 34 minutes from Campbell once again with the season on the line.

On the road, Campbell has averaged 9.2 points per game and 11.6 at home. I think Campbell will attack the lane and make a difference on a neutral court here. He is not very confident in his three-point shot on the road, making only 9.2% of attempts (2/21), yes that is correct. However, he gets to the charity stripe 3.3 times per game compared to 2.0 at home, which is encouraging when his shot does not drop.

He has scored seven or more points in 22-of-26 games this season.

He has scored nine or more points in 17-of-26 games this season.

He has scored nine or more points in five-of-11 road/neutral games this season.

Michigan State allows 21.7% of its opponents points to come from the free-throw line, the 39th-most in the nation. Campbell is fourth on the team in attempts (67) and makes (52), but third in percentage (77.6%).

The Spartans also allow a slightly higher two-point percentage than the NCAA average with 52% permitted. UCLA finds 54.2% of its points from two, 72nd in the country and 18.4% from the free-throw line (172nd). Encouraging signs for Campbell.

I think Campbell will play enough minutes to allow him to score double-digits. With 17 games of nine or more points and this one being the most important, I like him to find some success in the lane and charity stripe.

Player Prop Pick: Tyger Campbell Over 8.5 Points (1u)

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