Akron +13.5 vs UCLA – 2 units
This is a really good defensive team who’s shooting the ball well from three and peaking at the right time. All 5 of their starters play really good defense and UCLA’s size won’t bother them they’re a physical team and Enrique Freeman is a really good rim protector/shot blocker for Akron and might be one of the best defenders in the tournament. This is Akron coach John Groce’s 3rd different team he’s taken to the tournament and he beat Georgetown in 2010 by 14 with Ohio as a 14 seed and Georgetown the 3 seed. It’s a balanced team with guards who create their own shots Xavier Castaneda and Greg Tribble and they trap and force turnovers. Ali Ali is one of their bigs he’s really good and can shoot threes and was one of the best players in the MAC. Enrique Freeman went from walk on a few years ago to defensive player of the year in the MAC and he’s got a huge motor and will move around all game and can compete with UCLA’s bigs. UCLA can make another Final 4 run with the talent they have but this has a good chance of being a competitive game with how well Akron plays defense and how much they run the shot clock down on offense and work for good shots. 13.5 is a lot for Akron’s defense. They’re traveling to Portland from Ohio for this game but it being a 9:50 ET tip Thursday gives them some more time to get ready for this game. They’re 7-1 ATS their last 8, covered 5 of them by double digits and they should have a good chance to keep this a game and cover the #.