How To Watch, Game Preview and Game Thread: UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan State Spartans

It’s win or go home tonight for the UCLA Bruins as they play in the NCAA First Four. (Photo Credit: Don Liebig/uclabruins.com)

The UCLA men’s basketball team begins play in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tonight when the Bruins face the Michigan State Spartans. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:57 pm PT and the game will be broadcast on TBS.

After collapsing in their last four games, UCLA will play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Of course, Purdue is where Coach Wooden played his college basketball, even if he didn’t play it inside Mackey Arena. In fact, Mackey Arena’s address is 900 John R. Wooden Drive. Despite this, UCLA has been designated as the away team tonight.

The Michigan State Spartans finished the season 9-11 in Big Ten play and 15-12 overall. That record landed the Spartans in eighth place in their conference.

The Spartans are a team which has beaten three Top Five teams over the past month. First, they beat #5 Illinois on February 23. They followed that with a win over #4 Ohio State on February 25. Then, they split a home-and-home pair of games against #2 Michigan, losing on the road before winning at home.

Meanwhile, UCLA has been in an absolute free fall, losing their last four games to each of the other Pac-12 schools which are in this year’s tournament. It certainly seems like this is a case of two teams moving in opposite directions, and that’s also part of what makes this such an interesting matchup.

It will be interesting to see if the Bruins will play better against the Spartans tonight than they did at the beginning of the Mick Cronin era.

Starting Five

The good news for the Bruins is that the two guys who scored most against UCLA last year, Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman, are gone. This year’s Spartans are led by junior forward Aaron Henry. Henry is averaging 15.3 points per game while also leading the team in rebounds with an average of 5.7 per game. Interestingly, his 3.5 assists per game also leads the team. The only thing Henry doesn’t do well for the Spartans is shoot the three. He is only shooting 28.2% from behind the arc.

Graduate guard Joshua Langford is third on the team in points with an average of 9.6 per game. He is second on the team in minutes so fans should expect to see a lot of Langford on the floor tonight.

Sophomore guard Rocket Watts was one of three Spartans in double figures when they played UCLA last season. He scored 12 in that game. This year, he’s averaging 7.7 points per game, but he’s averaging 8.4 ppg in games where he starts.

Rounding out the starting five are sophomore forwards Malik Hall and Julius Marble. Both of these guys are light scorers. So, look for them to be more defensively-minded.

Keep an eye out for Joey Hauser and Gabe Brown off the bench. Both are guys who Tom Izzo will look to when he needs subs who can contribute.

Listen to the Game Here on TMB!

The TuneIn player won’t embed here on Substack, but you can open another tab to listen. Today’s game is on TBS with Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson and Allie LaForce calling the game. If you would prefer to listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray call today’s game instead you can listen to today’s game online.

Join your fellow Bruin fans discussing today’s game below.

This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Michigan State Beavers NCAA First Four game thread.

2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament First Four

  • Opponent: UCLA Men’s Basketball (17-9) vs. Michigan State Spartans (15-12)

  • Series Record: UCLA leads, 6-4

  • When: 6:57 pm PT, Thursday, March 18, 2021

  • Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN

  • TV: TBS with Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson and Allie LaForce

  • Live Stream: NCAA.com and the March Madness app

  • Radio/Audio:
    AM 570 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
    Satellite Radio: Sirius XM Ch. 206 (National feed)
    And, of course, here in The Mighty Bruin Game Thread!

  • Live Stats: NCAA March Madness

  • Game Notes:
    UCLA
    Michigan State


Go Bruins!


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