No. 6 UCLA (25-9) vs. No. 11 Minnesota (20-12)
Tipoff: 6:57 p.m. PT, Frank Erwin Center (University of Texas at Austin)
Conference play: The Golden Gophers opened the season 15-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, but have lost 11 of their 16 games since. Minnesota finished in a three-way tie for seventh in the conference alongside Illinois, a seven-seed, and Purdue, which did not make the field of 68. The Gophers lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, falling 51-49 to the Illini.
Coach: Tubby Smith is one of the most well-known coaches in college basketball, but hasn’t replicated the success he had at Kentucky. He began his career in Lexington with an NCAA title in 1998, and reached three Elite Eights and two Sweet Sixteens before resigning in 2007 due to public pressure and dissatisfaction.
Minnesota will be making its third NCAA appearance in six years under Smith, and are looking for their first victory after two double-digit losses in the first round.
F – Trevor Mbawke*, Sr., 6-8, 245, 10.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.5 blk
F – Rodney Williams, Sr., 6-7, 200, 10.3 pts, 5.1 reb, 1.4 blk
G – Joe Coleman, So., 6-4, 210, 8.7 pts, 3.8 reb, 1.5 ast
G – Austin Hollins, Jr., 6-4, 185, 10.6 pts, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl
G – Andre Hollins*, So., 6-1, 200, 13.9 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.4 ast
G – Julian Welch, Sr., 6-3, 195, 3.2 pts, 1.4 reb, 1.5 ast
C – Elliott Eliason, So., 6-11, 260, 2.2 pts, 3.5 reb, 1.2 blk
Scouting report: Minnesota, which returns to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence, ranks No. 34 in RPI and played the country’s fourth-toughest schedule. More foreboding for UCLA is that the Golden Gophers hold the eighth-best rebounding margin in Division I at +8.2. The Bruins have been outrebounded in 13 of their last 14 games. Being without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams (broken foot) has also made them a popular upset pick; Minnesota is a three-point favorite according to BetOnline.com.