As the number 1 overall seed in the tournament, The University of Florida was less than impressive in their second round win over Albany. They turned that around with a dominant performance over Pitt in their 3rd round 61-45 win. It was the teams 28 consecutive win and has them playing at their best heading into the sweet 16. UCLA has been dominant in both of their performances. They had a relatively easy time with Tulsa in the second round and then faced first round upset winner Stephen F. Austin in the third round and easily defeated them 77-60. The good news for the Bruins is that they have been dominant in their two performances, the bad news is that they have not faced a team loaded with talent that could prepare them for what they are going to face on Thursday.
In an odd statistic this is the first time since 1983 that all number 4 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16. They were much stronger and more physical that Stephen F Austin as evidenced by the fact that they outscored them by 20 points in the paint. They are a team that shares the basketball; there was an assist on 15 of the 21 field goals that occurred in the paint. They value possession of the ball and only committed 4 turnovers. Guard Jordan Adams had 19 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Norman Powell had 16 points and a strong all around defensive game. Kyle Anderson finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. It was a total team effort and that is what it is going to take to defeat the Gators.
While Florida could have been more dominant in their win, there was never really any doubt as to who was going to advance to the sweet 16. Their defense was suffocating all game long as they only allowed one Pitt player to reach double figures. Guard Scottie Wilbekin was the star of the game. He scored 21 points that included 13 in the second half. What’s more impressive is that he had a team high 10 points in the paint. He proved to be reliable in clutch situations as he was 5-6 in situations where the shot clock had 10 seconds or less. Guard Michael Frazier was the only other Gator in double figures with 10 points. They only play 7 players and all saw over 20 minutes played.
Florida’s depth could be an issue if the up-tempo pace of UCLA proves to get them fatigued and/or gets them in foul trouble. Florida is a team that likes to play in transition in spurts so it will be interesting to see at which pace this game develops. UCLA will be able to match up with the Florida size rather well making this a tough contest for the number 1 seed in the region.
Pick: Florida – 4.5
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