Michigan Wolverines: Final Four In Reach As Strong Elite 8 Favorite Vs. UCLA

Written By Drew Ellis on March 29, 2021 - Last Updated on December 13, 2021
Michigan in the Elite Eight for 2011 NCAA Tournament

Top-seeded Michigan is in the Elite Eight again, and is just one win away from its second Final Four appearance in four seasons.

After an impressive showing against Florida State on Sunday, can the Wolverines dial up another successful game plan Tuesday when it takes on No. 11 seed UCLA?

Here’s a closer look at the game and what the oddsmakers think about the chances for Michigan in the Elite Eight.

Oddsmakers have Michigan as significant favorite

Michigan and UCLA are scheduled to tip off their East Region final from Lucas Oil Stadium at 9:57 p.m. Tuesday on TBS.

Oddsmakers see Michigan as a sizable favorite for this March Madness game. The Wolverines are listed as a 7.5-point favorite in most MI sportsbooks, with some lines leaning down to a 7-point spread. The over/under is listed around 136.5 points.

These two teams haven’t met since Dec. 9, 2017. For whatever it’s worth, Michigan has won and covered the spread in three of its past four games against UCLA.

Early public betting numbers are behind UCLA. According to Covers.com’s bet-tracking charts, The Bruins are getting 58% of the handle thus far, hence a spare sportsbook showing that 7-point line.

Wolverines stifle Florida State in Sweet 16

The Wolverines put on their best showing of the NCAA Tournament Sunday in a 76-58 win over No. 4 seed Florida State to place Michigan in the Elite Eight.

The Wolverines were focused and prepared on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Michigan held Florida State to 5-for-20 shooting from the 3-point arc while forcing 14 turnovers.

Michigan was the aggressor on offense as well, forcing FSU into 22 fouls. Michigan committed just 10.

Although the Wolverines only shot 27% from long range themselves, they used second-chance opportunities to finish possessions.

Scoring was balanced, as Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr. each had 14 points to lead the way.

Franz Wagner added 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Chaundee Brown scored 12 points off the bench.

One thing that became clear in Sunday’s win is that Michigan is moving along just fine without Isaiah Livers. The Wolverines officially declared him out for the tournament because of his foot injury.

UCLA … from First Four to Final Four?

UCLA is looking to become the second team in tournament history to reach the Final Four after taking part in the First Four (VCU was the first in 2011).

The Bruins led No. 2 Alabama throughout Sunday’s regional semifinal, but were forced into overtime after a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from Alex Reese to end regulation.

Still, the Bruins didn’t let the moment overcome them and dominated the Tide in the extra session for a 10-point win. UCLA was unstoppable offensively in OT, scoring 23 points.

All five starters reached double figures. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jules Bernard had 17 points apiece and combined for 14 rebounds. David Singleton added 15 points off the bench.

UCLA is one of three Pac-12 Conference teams to reach the Elite Eight.

Michigan must keep offense churning vs. Bruins

Michigan needs to continue the same gameplan it has had throughout the tournament in order to reach the Final Four.

The Wolverines have executed well on defense, making opponents work hard for open looks. Michigan has shared the ball on offense and put up strong point totals. Through three games this tournament, Michigan is averaging 81.3 points.

On Tuesday, Michigan faces a UCLA team that allows opponents to shoot 44%.

UCLA is averaging 78.5 points through four tournament games, but that figure includes two OT sessions. The Bruins haven’t faced a defense like Michigan’s yet, and they haven’t had to go up against a paint presence like Dickinson’s.

For Michigan sports bettors, the spread could be concerning. It’s a lot of points for Michigan to cover at this stage of the postseason.

UCLA comes in 4-0 against the spread as well in their four tournament games. It’s worth noting, though, that UCLA has only been a betting favorite once.

Michigan is 2-1 ATS in the tournament, covering in their past two games. The Wolverines are just 2-4 ATS in their last six as a 7.5-point favorite or more, however.

Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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