At a glance: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 1 Florida

NCAA Tournament, South Region
Sweet Sixteen:
No. 4 UCLA (28-8) vs. No. 1 Florida (34-2)
When: Thursday, 6:45 p.m. PT, FedEx Forum (Memphis)
TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

RPI/Pomeroy ranking: 1 / 1

Best wins: Beat second-seeded Kansas in a December home victory, allowing 26 points to Andrew Wiggins but holding every other Jayhawk to single digits in a 67-61 decision. Beat No. 8-seed Kentucky three times over a four-week span, by 10-, 19- and 1-point margins.

Worst losses: None. Lost at Wisconsin and UConn by a combined seven points. The Huskies needed a buzzer-beater from Shabazz Napier to hold on.


Key numbers: Lots to choose from here: 18th-most efficient offense, second-most efficient defense, a 28-game winning streak that tops college basketball.

But let’s start with 240, Florida center Patric Young’s listed weight. The 6-foot-9 SEC Defensive Player of the Year carries an absurdly sculpted frame, one he uses to toy with defenders down low.

For a UCLA defense that doesn’t intimidate most teams in the paint, Young might the scariest matchup yet. The Gators know when to feed him; he converts 67.7 percent of his shots at the rim, 58 percent of which are assisted. He also has enough touch to be a threat farther away. Over half his field goal attempts are 2-point jumpers, and he makes 43.1 percent of them — second among the team’s regular rotation players.

Who’s first? Senior Casey Prather, who emerged this season as an All-American candidate. Though he’s not a threat from beyond the arc — he’s only taken five 3-pointers — Prather is an effective 43.2 percent on 2-point jumpers. A strong defender who utilizes his quick first step on offense, the 6-foot-6 wing is 126-of-172 at the rim.

He rivals Norman Powell in pure devastation:

Free throw shooting is perhaps Florida’s only glaring weakness. The Gators’ 66.4 percent mark is 286th in the country and third-worst among the surviving 16 teams, ahead of No. 4-seed Louisville (66.3) and No. 1 seed Arizona (51.1). If UCLA (74.9) keeps the game close down the stretch, it has a decent chance of coming out on top.

Florida also isn’t stocked with lights-out shooters. Though it shoots a respectable 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, two players are responsible for 71.3 percent of those attempts: point guard Scottie Wilbekin and shooting guard Michael Frazier II. The Bruins need to figure out a way to close out on both without giving up too much room underneath.

Frazier is mainly a catch-and-shoot threat; he takes 77.7 percent of his shots from downtown, and is assisted on 93.6 percent (!) of his makes. Wilbekin, the SEC Player of the Year, has taken exactly half his field goal attempts from behind the arc.


Florida starting lineup:
C – Patric Young, Sr., 6-9, 240: 10.9 pts, 6.3 reb, 1.0 blk
F – Will Yeguete, Sr., 6-8, 230: 4.9 pts, 5.1 reb, 1.0 stl
F – Casey Prather, Sr., 6-6, 212: 14.1 pts, 4.9 reb, 60.7 FG%
G – Michael Frazier II, So., 6-4, 199: 12.5 pts, 3.5 reb, 44.4 3P%
G – Scottie Wilbekin, Sr., 6-2, 176: 13.1 pts, 3.7 ast, 1.6 stl

Key reserves –
F – Dorian Finney-Smith, So., 6-8, 212: 9.0 pts, 6.7 reb, 2.0 ast (SEC Sixth Man of the Year)
G – Kasey Hill, Fr., 6-1, 181: 5.6 pts, 3.0 ast, 1.3 stl

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  • Big deal, Florida. They are a football school and haven’t done jack in basketball. Unless Teebow is at the game I don’t think they have a chance.

    • LTEfan

      Well, since 1975, Florida has won more NCAA basketball titles than we have. So, I guess that makes us a football school that hasn’t done jack in basketball?

      • NOBSisdaMAN

        Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Good one.

      • Not really sure that is true. You forgot all the NCs coach Wooten won.

        • NOBSisdaMAN

          Don’t forget the real hook for Woodie, Nellie Belle

  • Sam C

    I think the boys are talented. Gotta play D like crazy and I don’t know that we do that consistently

  • ProbationU

    If anyone takes Lavine that early they need to have their heads examined and it is unlikely that Anderson goes that high as well. We have some fine players but Florida has some beasts on the inside and on the boards. It will take a huge team effort to block out and hammer the boards to win this game.

    • The Big Woof!

      Could not agree more about Zach. He is not ready! I’ve had 2 words for him: Russell Westbrook. Now I’ve added 2 more: Shabazz Muhammad.

  • Jack Wang

    Florida’s individual talent isn’t overwhelming, but using the pro potential as a measuring stick for Thursday doesn’t work well. Patric Young, for instance, is an undersized prospect and doesn’t have a finely developed offensive game. But the Bruins don’t exactly have NBA-level talent defending the paint.

    The Gators are also a team that tends to play better than the sum of its parts. That’s particularly apparent on defense, where they manage to defend the paint while being a below-average shot-blocking team. It’s not as good as Arizona in that respect (42.9 2P% to 40.1 2P%) but does a much better job forcing turnovers. SB Nation breaks it down nicely here:

    • Cliff Sakata

      Thanks Jack.

  • NobisaMan

    At least UCLA is in the Sweeet 16! congrats, dudes, you earned it.

    Southern Cal sucks so bad in everything but water polo. (sigh)

    • NOBSisdaMAN

      But we are still inferior to USC

      • ProbationU

        Of course we are….but if SC is so superior and wealthy, why do you all complain about paying seat license fees at the Mausoleum. Maybe you can get a seat with the plaque…Joseph B Lowe.

        • NOBSisdaMAN

          That’s the problem, I already have several. Actually looking out for the poor slobs.

  • The Big Woof!

    Jack, please have your IT guys check out the site. Each time I’ve been on in the past few days it freezes my computer and I can’t access it and have trouble getting out. It is the only site that does this to me.

    • WEB_Dupree

      I have been having that problem too, with both Wolf’s blog and this one — mostly while using Firefox. Chrome seems to handle it better lately.

      • Possible solutions:

        -Do you have any extensions installed that might be interfering? The Firefox avast! extension wasn’t playing nice with Disqus (had to disable it).

        -Have you updated Java?

        -Backblaze (an online backup solution) slows things down when bztransmit64.exe is running in the background (have to kill it in Task Manager).

    • Jack Wang

      Sorry about that. I just emailed someone. Let me know if it keeps happening.

    • Jack Wang

      Web guy hasn’t been able to replicate the problem yet. What browser/version are you using?

      • The Big Woof!

        Sorry for delay, I use Firefox 22.0. Yesterday I was able to get to a lot and then it acted up again – seems to have trouble when ads are trying to pop up.

  • The Big Woof!

    Cliff, your optimism is the perfect balance to Mark’s pessimism. But BB is a team game and NBA draft has practically nothing to do with how any team will play. We do have some remarkable talent, but Florida has played much better and more consistently as a team the whole year. That said, we can beat anyone on a given day, but beating Florida will be very tough, and I’m sure not betting the family farm on it.

    • Cliff Sakata

      I never said UCLA was going to win. Lol. Just that they have more talent. Though it’s a no brainer that the more talented team usually wins (see Wichita State v. Kentucky). We’ve only beaten Tulsa and Steven Austin, not exactly titans of college basketball, so it’s hard to gauge how good we really are. We’ll know after tomorrow. Go Bruins!

  • NOBSisdaMAN

    Hate to say it, Florida 79. Ucla 62

    • ProbationU

      Hate to say it….go watch your team at Spring practice. It’s all you have left now that Water Polo is over.

      • NOBSisdaMAN

        That and my Natty rings.

  • Biglar

    I am anxious to see what the haters say about UCLA and the Alfords when UCLA beats Florida. Here are my guesses:

    1) They will move the goalposts (again). Having started the year with a minimum expectation of first or second in the PAC-12 and sweet sixteen, the idiots at BN have now decided to set a new minimum of Great 8 now that UCLA has made the Sweet 16. If UCLA wins, expect the minimum to move to making the Final Four;

    2) They will complain about the team not being good because Bryce Alford plays too much, despite the fact that they don’t actually watch the games, see how much he contributes, or acknowledge the fact that he is only a freshman;

    3) They will complain about Dan Guerrero and his terrible hiring of Alford and the (supposedly) lucky hiring of Mora. Never will they admit those might have been good hires;

    4) Whatever they write, it will be riddled with logical and grammatical errors. It almost makes me embarrassed to be an alumnus, but then I remember than even at a great school like UCLA, it is people like the trolls at BN who set the bottom of the curve.

    • JPKB

      Why waste your time on that website? It is a farce and a laughingstock that no one takes seriously. Not one of the mods is a UCLA graduate. They are a bunch of trolls masquerading as fans.

      • NOBSisdaMAN

        Bruin Nation is the Bible foe ucla sports.

    • Cliff Sakata

      I actually like Bruin Nation. But what I don’t get is people coming over here and complaining about them. It’s like someone who hates a restaurant but keep eating there and keeps complaining about it.

      • JPKB

        I quit going to that site long ago. It is so obvious that the moderators are trolls its hilarious. The Bruin fans I know all dismiss that site and view it as completely irrelevant albeit good for a laugh after UCLA wins and they try to spin it into a negative.

        Let me know when they unmask Nestor, Tie-dye, Achilles and the rest of the crazies for the trolls that they are or when they get the boot and I will go back to that site.

      • ProbationU

        If they didn’t ban people simply for disagreeing, then the site would be much better. They have some good information on many sports but their constant sniping and negativity along with censoring other peoples opinions that don’t agree with them is over the top. So, while there is plenty that is good, banning fellow Bruins from expressing themselves seems childish at best.