UCLA received the fourth seed in the East Region of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and will face 13th-seeded Akron in a first-round game Thursday in Portland, Oregon.
Oddsmakers have made the Bruins a 13 1/2-15-point favorite. The ABC News-owned data prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com gives UCLA a 93% chance of winning.
The Bruins (25-7) are the overall 13th seed in the 68-team tournament. The Zips (24-9) are the 54th overall seed.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the fourth seeds have a 113-31 record against the 13th seeds in the first round. UCLA has lost twice in the first round as the fourth seed — 74-69 to Penn State in 1991 and 43-41 to Princeton in 1996 when they were the defending national champion.
The Bruins will be making their 51st appearance in the NCAA tournament, although their 1980 and 1999 appearances were vacated because of rule violations. UCLA reached its 19th Final Four last year, with its 1980 appearance vacated.
Akron won the Mid-American Conference Tournament to be assured of reaching the tournament for the first time since 2013 and the fifth time since becoming a Division I school in 1980.
The game is set to begin at approximately 6:50 p.m. and will be televised by TBS.
The UCLA-Akron winner will face the winner of the game between fifth-seeded St. Mary’s and the winner Tuesday’s First Four game between Wyoming and Indiana, both 12th seeds, in a second-round game Saturday.