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.
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