The Sweet 16 matchups are set after a dramatic first weekend of the NCAA Tournament!

As for UCLA, the No. 2 seeded Bruins made it safely through with a big win over UNC Asheville and a hard-fought battle over No. 7 seed Northwestern. Now, UCLA prepares to battle it out with Gonzaga, the 3-seed in the West Region, for a shot at the Elite Eight.

Ahead of the Sweet 16 matchups, ESPN’s panel of college basketball experts has predicted every game. Here is how they are predicting the final score between the Bruins and Bulldogs:

  • Jeff Borzello: UCLA 75, Gonzaga 72
  • John Gasaway: UCLA 78, Gonzaga 72
  • Myron Medcalf: UCLA 80, Gonzaga 76

While all 3 analysts are predicting a tight game wire-to-wire, here are Borzello’s comments on the game being decided by one possession:

The last time these teams met in the NCAA tournament, Jalen Suggs hit a 3 at the buzzer from just inside half court to send Gonzaga to the 2021 national championship game. This one should come down to the wire, too. For me, the difference is UCLA’s defense. While Gonzaga has the best offense in the country, UCLA might be the best at the other end. The Bruins have more size and length to utilize against Drew Timme than TCU did. Meanwhile, I’m not sure Gonzaga will be able to stop Jaime Jaquez Jr., and I like the veteran experience of Tyger Campbell in a game like this.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s analytics is giving the Bruins a 65.8% of making it through. Thursday’s matchup is set for 6:45 pm PST from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

What’s on the line for UCLA?

While UCLA made it back to the Final Four in 2021 under Mick Cronin, the Bruins ultimately lost a thriller to Gonzaga to miss out on the national championship game. And though UCLA has seen varying levels of success over the past two decades, one of the nation’s proudest basketball programs is still searching for its first national title since 1995.

We’ll see if this year’s squad has the firepower to deliver on the biggest stage.