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Saint Mary's vs UCLA East Region Picks: Bruins Too Strong for Gritty Gaels

The Gaels have been a tough out throughout the college basketball season but as March Madness rolls on, they face a tough out in the Bruins. We break it all down for you in our Saint Mary's vs. UCLA betting picks.

Last Updated: Mar 19, 2022 5:00 PM ET Read Time: 5 min

Unless you’re living out on the West Coast, you likely haven’t watched that much late-night basketball. However, basketball out West has been gradually getting better in recent years. Luckily, two really good West teams will be playing at a reasonable hour on the East Coast on Saturday.

The St. Mary’s Gaels, who just knocked off Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, will take on a UCLA Bruins team that is poised for another huge March Madness run after reaching the Final Four last year. 

Here are our March Madness picks and predictions for the Round of 32 matchup between the St. Mary’s Gaels and the UCLA Bruins.

Saint Mary's vs UCLA odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

The UCLA Bruins have been sitting steadily at -2.5 since opening while the total has jumped from 125.5 to 126 at most books.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Saint Mary's vs UCLA predictions

Predictions made on 3/18/2022 at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Saint Mary's vs UCLA game info

Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Date: Saturday, March 19, 2022
Tip-off: 7:10 p.m. ET
TV: TBS

Saint Mary's vs UCLA betting preview

Injuries

Saint Mary's: None.
UCLA: Mac Etienne F (Out).
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Bruins are 6-1 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Saint Mary's vs. UCLA.

Saint Mary's vs UCLA picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

It’s been years since a West Coast team won the NCAA Tournament. Teams like Gonzaga and UCLA have come close, but it’s mostly East Coast teams finishing the Tournament out. This year, we’ll at least have one team make the Sweet 16 from the West Coast. 

One team has to win and advance in the East Region between these two teams. 

The St. Mary's Gaels are one of the worst teams at getting to the foul line this season, however, from the field, the Gaels make up for it. St. Mary’s has hit 35.5% from deep, 52.6% from inside the arc while also knocking down 76.3% from the charity stripe. 

The offense doesn’t just get good looks but also limits turnovers to 16.9%. The fewer turnovers the better off St. Mary’s will be as they can get more shot attempts off. I say this because the Gaels are just an average offensive rebounding team, earning 27.4% of them per game. If you can’t offensive rebound at an extreme right, you have to be able to hold onto the basketball. St. Mary’s does that. 

On the other hand, UCLA is one of the best defenses in the nation. The Bruins will limit St. Mary's on the glass as the Bruins allow just 24.8% rebounds per game. UCLA is also allowing just 32% from deep and 47.3% from inside. Therefore, it won’t be easy for St. Mary’s to score points.

On the offensive end, UCLA is also extremely good. UCLA is limiting turnovers to 13.4% per game and earning 31.9% offensive rebounds. Then when it comes to shooting, the Bruins are 35.2% from three and 49.2% from inside the arc. 

UCLA likely won’t get to the line all that much but still shoot 73.9% when given an opportunity. 

The Gaels will absolutely get some stops too. St. Mary’s is limiting teams to 21.8% offensive rebounds on the season. Plus, while the Gaels don't defend the three all that well, allowing 34.2% from downtown, they have been able to be very good inside the arc, with opponents hitting just 46.6%.

At the end of the day, UCLA’s offense is more consistent than St. Mary’s. In a tight game, I like the Bruins to pull this game out.

Prediction: UCLA -2.5 (-110)

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Over/Under analysis

According to KenPom, UCLA is 13th in the nation in defensive adjusted efficiency while St. Mary’s is 9th in the nation. The Gaels won’t allow many second chances and should be able to get stops inside the arc at a solid rate. 

On the other hand, UCLA has consistently defended at a high level in every area but on the defensive glass. The Gaels might earn some offensive rebounds but the shot quality won’t essentially be there. 

So I’ll grab the Under 126. It’s a very low number but with the way, these two teams match, taking the under makes the most sense.

Prediction: Under 126 (-110)

Best bet

Again, UCLA isn’t going to dominate the offensive glass like it is used to. However, if the Bruins can keep turnovers down and continue to get good looks from downtown, the Bruins should be able to escape with a win. 

The Gaels will more than likely have fewer foul shot attempts and have had trouble defending the three this season, giving up 34.2% from downtown on the year. 

With that, I like UCLA to have success from the field and believe UCLA will also keep the turnovers down while still winning the rebound battle against St. Mary’s. 

Let’s go with UCLA.

Pick: UCLA -2.5 (-110)

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