Stephen Vilardo’s UCLA-UNC Sweet 16 Preview

UCLA is back in the Sweet-16 for the second straight year and the fifth time in the past nine

Posted on March 25, 2022


  By Stephen Vilardo, SportsPac12

UCLA finds itself back in the Sweet-16 for the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the past nine years.

The Bruins will continue to wear the white jerseys for a third time when they face 8-seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels were overtime winners over defending champion and No. 1-seed Baylor on Saturday.

Carolina let a 25-point lead get away from them against the Bears before taking the win. The Bruins got here with a gritty win over Akron and a 16-point win over St. Mary’s. 

Tyger Campbell has averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists in the two NCAA wins while Jaime Jaquez Jr has gone for 15 points and 6.5 rebounds the two games. 

It will be a battle of contrasting styles. North Carolina averages 72.8 possessions per game, the 55th most in the nation. The Heels have gotten 78.1 in their last three.

The Bruins are 214th with 69.4 possessions per game. UCLA has averaged 62.7 possessions per game in the last three games they have played.

UCLA is 20-1 this season when limiting opponents to 70 points or fewer, UNC is 14-1 when they get 80 or more points, and 12-8 when held under 80.

The Heels averaged 81.6 points in their 26 wins this season. In their nine losses, the total drops to 69.3 points per game.

A difference between these teams is UCLA’s efficiency on both sides of the ball.

The Bruins have a defensive efficiency of 91.1 (13th in the nation) with an offensive rate of 116.2 (12th). The Tar Heels are 20th on the offensive end but dip to 43rd on the defensive end of the floor. 

North Carolina averages 12.9 turnovers per game; UCLA has gone 10-1 this season and 25-4 under Mick Cronin when forcing at least 15 turnovers in a game.

It would also do wonders for UCLA if Johnny Juzang was back on track. He scored 14 in the win against St. Mary’s on 6 of 11 from the field.

It was just the third time in the last seven games he has reached double figures. 

The Bruins have made 27 of 32 (84.4%) from the free throw line in their first two games of the Tournament.

Here are my East region predictions:

• Purdue 86, St. Peters 72

• UCLA 78, UNC 75


Capsules For East Regional

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania| Wells Fargo Center
CBS (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, and Jamie Erdahl)
Friday Game One: St. Peter’s vs Purdue 4:09 pm (PT)
Game Two: North Carolina vs UCLA 6:40 PM (PT)


UCLA Bruins (27-7)

4-seed East Region

36th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 51

Second Consecutive Sweet-16 appearance

Tournament Trail:

(13) Akron 57-53

(5) St. Mary’s 72-56

1-1 vs North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 88-81 UNC win in 1989

Last Meeting with North Carolina: 72-64 L in Las Vegas 12/21/19

Series against the Field

North Carolina (8-Seed): North Carolina leads 10-3 all-time

Purdue (3-Seed): UCLA leads 10-3 all-time

St. Peter’s (15-Seed): Never Met

• UCLA is fourth in the nation with a turnover rate of 13.0 percent.

• The Bruins are getting an average of 7.3 more scoring chances per game than opponents, the third-most in the nation.

• Myles Johnson is getting 5.6 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes, the 12th-most in the country.

• In the last two seasons, UCLA is 39-4 when holding opponents to 70 or less, and 49-2 when it is 65 or less

• UCLA is 10-2 this season when forcing at least 15 turnovers. 

• UCLA last played in Philadelphia in the first and second rounds of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. They went 1-1 in those games.

• The Bruins’ last trip to the Northeast was a trip to Brooklyn (Dec. 19, 2015) against North Carolina—an 89-76 Tar Heel win. 

• UCLA’s 27 wins this season are the most by a Bruins team since finishing 31-5 in 2016-17.

• The Bruins are 10-2 in their last 12 games played.

• North Carolina has the highest winning percentage (.769) against UCLA of any team that has played the Bruins 10 or more times.


North Carolina Tar Heels (26-9)

8-seed East Region

 35th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 52

In Sweet-16 for the first time since 2019

Tournament Trail:

(9) Marquette 95-63

(1) Baylor 93-88 (OT)

1-1 vs UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 88-81 UNC win in 1989

Last Meeting with UCLA: 72-64 W in Las Vegas 12/21/19

Series against the Field

UCLA (4-Seed): North Carolina leads 10-3 all-time

Purdue (3-Seed): North Carolina leads 8-3 all-time

St. Peter’s (15-Seed): Never Met

• Since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1975, UNC has been to the Sweet 16 30 times

• UNC has averaged 94.0 points per game in the NCAA tournament and 80.8 points during the month of March.

• North Carolina is fifth in the nation with a total rebounds rate of 55.5 percent. 

• Armando Bacot is fifth in the nation with 16.0 rebounds per 40 minutes.

• Armando Bacot has 27 double-doubles this season, the second-most in the nation.

• North Carolina has won five in a row over UCLA.

• Carolina has the highest winning percentage (.769) against UCLA of any team that has played the Bruins 10 or more times.

• The win over Baylor was the first time UNC eliminated the defending champion in the NCAA Tournament.

• North Carolina is 14-3 in their last 17 games.

• Carolina is 14-6 in five different arenas in Philadelphia, including 2-0 in the Wells Fargo Center.


Purdue Boilermakers (29-7)

3-seed East Region

 12th Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 33

In Sweet-16 for the first time since 2019

Tournament Trail:

(14) Yale 78-56

(6) Texas 81-71

1-0 vs St. Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 2011 First Round

Last Meeting with St. Peter’s: 65-43 Purdue win 3/18/11 in Chicago

Series against the Field

St. Peter’s (15-Seed): Purdue leads 1-0 all-time

UCLA (4-Seed): UCLA leads 10-3 all-time

North Carolina (8-Seed): North Carolina leads 8-3 all-time 

• In the last three games, Purdue has scored 31.6 percent of their points from the FT line.

• Purdue is shooting 60.0 percent on non-blocked two-point FGs this season, 26th in the nation.

• The Boilermakers are making 22.42 FTs per 100 possessions, the ninth most in the nation.

• Purdue leads the nation with a total rebound rate of 57.0 percent.

• Zach Edey leads the nation with 30.4 points per 40 minutes. His 16.4 rebounds per 40 minutes are third in the nation.

• Trevion Williams is getting 14.8 rebounds per 40 minutes, 14th in the nation.

• Purdue is 13-0 this season against non-conference opponents.

• With a win, Purdue will tie the school record with 30 wins in a season.

• Purdue is 26-0 when scoring 70 or more points this season, 3-7 when they have been held under 70.


St. Peter’s Peacocks (21-11)

15-seed South Region

1st Trip to Sweet-16

NCAA Appearances: 4

First-ever Sweet-16 Appearance

Tournament Trail:

(2) Kentucky 85-79 (OT)

(7) Murray State 70-60

0-1 vs Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, most recent 2011 First Round

Last Meeting with Purdue: 65-43 Purdue win 3/18/11 in Chicago

Series against the Field

Purdue (3-Seed): Purdue leads 1-0 all-time

UCLA (4-Seed): Never Met

North Carolina (8-Seed): Never Met

• On the season, St. Peter’s is getting 21.6 percent of their points from the FT line, the 22nd-most in the nation. 

• The Peacocks are blocking 9.3 percent of opponent shots this season, the ninth-highest rate in the nation. Against Murray State, the rate was 13.5 percent. 

• St. Peter’s has committed a foul on 34.2 percent of possessions in the last three games.

• The Peacocks are 18-5 in the calendar year. 

• KC Ndefo is blocking .978 shots per foul committed. 

• The Peacocks are the first MAAC team to win an NCAA Tournament game since Siena did so in 2009.

Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenVilardo and his organization @SERCenter.

Visit his website at sercstats.com.




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