Northwestern Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Pick & Prediction MARCH 18th 2023

Stadium: Golden 1 Center Sacramento
Logo Northwestern Wildcats
Logo UCLA Bruins

127.5o -105
-9.5 +126



UCLA won 12 consecutive games before losing to Arizona in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament in a setback that was more frustrating than worrisome.

The scowling Bruins (30-5) bounced back with a vengeance Thursday and are out to continue the momentum against seventh-seeded Northwestern (22-11) on Saturday in the second round of NCAA Tournament West Region play at Sacramento, Calif.

Second-seeded UCLA held nothing back in a convincing 86-53 victory over 15th-seed UNC Asheville on Thursday. The Bruins scored the first 14 points and steamrolled the Bulldogs the rest of the way.

It was exactly the type of performance coach Mick Cronin envisioned.

"When we lost Saturday, I wasn't happy, but I knew it was going to help us," Cronin said afterward. "There's no question it was going to help us. I know these guys."

The strong effort came despite defensive standout Jaylen Clark (Achilles) lost for the season and big man Adem Bona (shoulder) missing his second straight game. Bona might return against the Wildcats.

The Bruins powered through the hardships right from the outset of Thursday's romp.

"Our guys really approached the game with a professional attitude, which is something that we try to focus on," Cronin said. "It's not about our opponent, it's about us. We got to make sure we maintain the same level of intensity and preparation for our next game."

UCLA now takes aim at reaching the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. If the Bruins beat Northwestern, it will mark the first time the program has accomplished that since reaching the Final Four in three consecutive tournaments from 2006-08.

Forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been a key player on each of the last three Bruins teams, including the surprise run to the Final Four in 2021 in Cronin's second season.

"Just enjoy it," Jaquez said of his approach. "It goes by fast, so enjoy every moment, play your heart out."

Northwestern is 2-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games after outclassing 10th-seeded Boise State 75-67 on Thursday.

The Wildcats advanced to the second round in 2017 in their maiden NCAA voyage before losing to Gonzaga. Northwestern faces another tough foe in the Bruins but coach Chris Collins said the name of the opponent doesn't mean much in March.

"When there's only 32 teams left, everybody's really good," Collins said. "You got to really focus. You got to be at our best. That's what we're going to hope to be on Saturday."

Senior guard Boo Buie and Chase Audige fueled the Wildcats' wire-to-wire victory over the Broncos. Buie recorded 22 points, five rebounds and five assists and Audige added 20 points, six rebounds and four steals.

Buie points to Collins as the reason for his success after being an unwanted high school player at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine.

"For me, I probably wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Coach," Buie said. "I was super under-recruited. He gave me my first and only high major scholarship. It was my commitment since Day One to help him out and just do anything I could.

"He put the ball in my hands since a freshman. He just believed in me. Each year I've gotten better, he's helped me get better."

Collins has witnessed the improvement over the years.

"It's a journey of four years," Collins said of Buie. "He's been a starter. We've gone through some ups, some downs, and now he's a senior and he's really leading our team and making big plays and that's what you need when you get to March."

UCLA has won four of the five meetings but the teams have met just once since 1969. The Bruins beat the Wildcats 95-79 on Nov. 29, 2013 in the Las Vegas Invitational title game.

--Field Level Media

Northwestern Wildcats
UCLA Bruins

Northwestern Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Recap MAR 18TH 2023

Jaime Jaquez Jr. registered 24 points and eight rebounds to help UCLA post a 68-63 victory over Northwestern on Saturday night in NCAA Tournament West Region play at Sacramento, Calif.

Amari Bailey added 14 points and six assists as the second-seeded Bruins (31-5) advance to a third straight Sweet 16 for the first time since the program reached three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08.

"It's just straight toughness," Jaquez said. "We work so hard and I think we really focus a lot on the scouting and just taking pride in the scouting report and what we need to do to win the game."

Tyger Campbell had seven assists and was 12 of 12 from the free-throw line for all of his points as UCLA won for the 14th time in the past 15 games.

The Bruins will face either third-seeded Gonzaga or sixth-seeded TCU on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Boo Buie scored 18 points for seventh-seeded Northwestern (22-12), which is 2-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Matt Nicholson scored a career-best 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while Chase Audige scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Wildcats.

Northwestern connected on 37.3 percent of its shots and was 6 of 22 from behind the arc.

The Bruins shot 50 percent from the field and were 6 of 15 from 3-point range.

The margin was three before UCLA's David Singleton swished a 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining to give the Bruins a 62-56 edge.

Brooks Barnhizer made two free throws with 1:26 left to bring Northwestern within four before Campbell made two free throws with 32.6 seconds remaining. Buie's basket with 23.3 seconds left again cut the Wildcats' deficit to four.

Singleton was fouled with 20.3 seconds left but injured his lower right leg on the play and was helped to the locker room. Dylan Andrews shot the free throws instead and made both for a six-point margin.

"Hopefully he's OK," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. "It scared him, I know that. He was able to get up so we'll see how that goes."

Campbell made two free throws with 11.7 seconds left to cap it.

UCLA held a 10-point halftime lead and pushed the margin to 41-28 on Bailey's layup with 17:59 remaining before the Wildcats went on a 17-4 surge.

Audige added two layups and Buie made one as Northwestern scored six of the final eight of the run to tie it at 45 with 11:26 remaining.

UCLA scored the next six points with Andrews draining a 3-pointer with 9:01 left.

Adem Bona's layup gave UCLA a 57-51 lead with 4:57 left.

Buie drained a 3-pointer 23 seconds later to cut the deficit to three. Campbell made two free throws with 2:50 left but Nicholson made two free throws 11 seconds later.

Jaquez scored 14 points and Bailey added 11 as UCLA led 35-25 at the break. Nicholson scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting for Northwestern while the rest of his teammates were a combined 5 of 23.

--Field Level Media