LSU vs. UCLA: How to pick, bet Sweet 16 odds in 2024 Albany women’s March Madness bracket

In what might be the best matchup of the women’s March Madness tournament to date, the reigning-champion LSU Tigers take on the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet 16 this Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN, live streaming on Sling). We’re diving headfirst into this clash, analyzing the odds and unveiling our best bets to advance to the Elite Eight. 

Does LSU have the juice to get back to the national championship? If it survives the loaded Albany 2 region — outlasting UCLA, Iowa, and Colorado — a repeat is certainly not out of the question. The Lady Tigers have won 12 of their past 13 games, with the only loss coming at the hands of undefeated South Carolina. 

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UCLA has enjoyed a strong run of its own. The Bruins have won 10 of their past 12 games, only losing to USC in the Pac-12 semifinals and Oregon State on Feb. 16 during that span. They turned one of the most difficult schedules in the nation into a 27-6 campaign and a second-place finish in a loaded conference.

This game will be must-see TV (or a can’t-miss stream!), and we can’t wait to place some bets for this one. Let’s jump right into the BetMGM betting odds for LSU vs. UCLA, then identify some key stats and trends and make our picks against the spread and predictions for this Sweet 16 clash.

LSU vs. UCLA odds in Sweet 16

Updated Sweet 16 odds have defending-champion LSU as a 3.5-point favorite entering Saturday’s matchup, according to BetMGM. The Tigers’ -160 moneyline translates to an implied win probability of just 61.5 percent. 

  • Odds: LSU (-3.5), O/U 144.5
  • Date: Saturday, March 30
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN/Sling
  • Arena: MVP Arena in Albany, New York (buy tickets)

LSU (30-5, 13-3 in SEC)

Take Dawn Staley’s powerhouse South Carolina squad out of the picture and LSU probably would have run the table and won the SEC this season. All that matters for Kim Mulkey’s squad right now, though, is that it’s playing its best basketball of the 2023-24 campaign right here, right now. 

Could the Lady Tigers repeat? They sure have a good chance if they can avoid racking up too many turnovers en route to wins over UCLA and the winner of Iowa-Colorado. LSU ranks third in the nation in scoring, with a handful of players all capable of going off. Walking double-double threat Angel Reese continues to dominate, and Flau’jae Johnson’s offensive ascent could make her one of the more compelling players to watch the rest of the way. 

Four different Tigers scored 16-plus points in their second-round victory over Middle Tennessee, a 27-point romp. LSU took an unfathomable 37 free throws (making 26), and Mulkey’s squad racked up 17 assists compared to just seven turnovers. They drive to the hoop and rebound as well as any team. They’ll be giving everything they’ve got to run it back and try for a second consecutive national title. 

Key players

Angel Reese, F, Sr. (6-3): 18.7 ppg, 13.2 rpg, 2.3 apg

Aneesah Morrow, F, So. (6-1): 16.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.7 apg

Flau’jae Johnson, G, So. (5-10): 14.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg

Mikaylah Williams, G, Fr. (6-0): 14.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.9 apg

UCLA (26-5, 13-5 in Pac-12)

UCLA finished the season ranked 17th in defensive rating and 22nd in scoring. Like LSU, the Bruins are efficient from inside the arc and rebound the ball extremely well. They don’t get to the line as much, but they do have a balanced scoring attack just like the Tigers. 

Lauren Betts, who stands 6-7, is a force on the interior and will more than likely match up with Reese. Kiki Rice and Charisma Osborne both do a little bit of everything on the court, playmaking on one end and pestering ball-handlers on the other. Like we’ve said many times, this could be the best game of the whole tournament.

Key players

Charisma Osborne, G, Sr. (5-9): 14.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.0 apg

Kiki Rice, G, So. (5-11): 13.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.5 apg

Lauren Betts, C, So. (6-7): 14.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg

MORE: Buy tickets for the Final Four as low as $210!

LSU vs. UCLA prediction

Hold on to your butts, because we’re predicting a slight upset here! With Betts making life difficult for Reese and potentially getting her into foul trouble, we like UCLA’s chances of making noise in the post and on the offensive glass on the neutral court. And with Rice and Osborne both playing stellar ball in just about every way, we think the Bruins will pull off the huge W. 

The key matchups to watch will be Betts-Reese and Osborne-Johnson. If Osborne can neutralize flame-throwing Flau’jae from outside the arc, Kim Mulkey’s squad might not have enough in the tank to get past this vastly-underrated UCLA squad. And who on the Tigers will defend Rice, who has size and physicality in addition to a killer instinct and a deadly stroke from the free-throw line. Bet the Bruins for the dub!

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: UCLA 75, LSU 72 — The Bruins win an epic battle (+135) and cover the spread (+3.5), with the score going slightly OVER the total (144.5).

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