Michigan Basketball: What to expect from UCLA in the Elite Eight

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Michigan Basketball will square off with the UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight rather than the expected Alabama Crimson Tide.  Alabama sputtered in their Sweet 16 matchup, eventually losing to the Bruins in overtime.

UCLA started their journey to the Elite Eight with a victory over the Michigan State Spartans in one of the two play-in games.  The 11th seeded Bruins have cruised to this point upsetting BYU, followed by blowing the socks off Abilene Christian Wildcats with a 20 point victory before disposing of Alabama.

The Bruins’ biggest surprise came over Alabama.  UCLA upset Alabama 88-78 overtime, but the Crimson Tide can’t point the finger at anyone but themselves for this loss.  Alabama shot just 25% from beyond the arc (7/28) and an atrocious 44% from the free-throw line (11/25).

On the other hand, UCLA shot 80% (20/25) from the charity stripe and just under 35% from three-point range (10/29).  When you dissect the rest of the numbers between the two, everything comes up nearly equal aside from Alabama turning the ball over 14 times and UCLA just eight.

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When you look at the free-throw numbers, that ten-point spread doesn’t exactly look so impressive.  Taking all that into consideration, the Bruins still needed an extra period to get past the Tide.

Michigan Basketball will need a scrappy effort to get past UCLA in the Elite Eight.

The Bruins may not be the most talented group, but it is a team that just won’t give up.  UCLA likes to put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.

The Wolverines will need Hunter Dickinson, Brandon Johns Jr, and Franz Wagner to continue their recent all-around but primarily rebounding success to assure Michigan Basketball can again cruise to a victory that will launch the team into the Final Four.  The trio should have plenty of opportunities to dominate the game inside on both ends of the court against a smaller UCLA club.

Michigan will need to lock-down a trio of talented UCLA guards starting with Johnny Juzang accompanied by Jules Bernard and Tyger Campbell.  I suspect Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown will be up to the task.

The Bruins won’t beat Michigan inside, but if they get hot shooting the ball from the outside, things could get far more interesting than expected.  The Bruins will hope to spread the Wolverines out and attack the rim on an iso drive looking to finish or kick it out to an open outside shooter.

Next. Michigan headed to Elite Eight after a dominant performance. dark

UCLA is a hard-working group on the defensive end, holding their opponents to a combined 24% shooting from beyond the arc.  It’s almost amazing they are at this point, considering the Bruins nearly missed the tournament all together losing four consecutive games to end their regular season.