NCAA Tournament Southeast Region Third Round
#2 Florida Gators vs #7 UCLA Bruins
St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL
Saturday, March 19, 2011, 2:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Florida -5
Current Line: Florida -5
Opening Total: 129 1/2
Current Total: 131 1/2
Money Line: Florida -225 / UCLA +185
Florida and UCLA meet for the third time in 6 years in the NCAA tournament. Florida beat UCLA in the National Championship Game in 2006 and then beat the Bruins again in the Final Four the next year. Now the two teams meet again, this time for the right to go to the sweet 16 in New Orleans next week. The #2 seed Florida Gators are 27-7 overall and won the SEC regular season title with a 13-3 record. The Gators have won 11 of their last 13 games, with both losses coming to Kentucky. The Gators destroyed UC-Santa Barbara in the second round 79-51 to advance to this game. Four Gator starters scored in double digits. Guard Erving Walker led the Gators with 18 points. Forward Chandler Parker almost had a triple double with 10 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. The #7 seed UCLA Bruins finished second in the Pac-10 with a 23-10 record, a game behind Arizona. The Bruins were 13-5 in the league. UCLA has struggled down the stretch going 4-3 in their last 7. They had a 23 point lead against Michigan St in the third round. The Bruins kept missing free throws and Michigan St climbed back into the game. The Bruins nearly choked away the lead but held on for a 78-76 victory. The Bruins missed 17 free throws including 9 in the last 3:40 of the game. Four Bruins scored in double digit figures including 16 a piece from Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee. Reeves Nelson added a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.
Florida leads the series against UCLA 2-0. This season, UCLA went 4-7 against teams in the NCAA Tournament. Florida was 13-3 against tournament teams. UCLA is 14-7 ATS versus teams with winning records this season.
UCLA has no significant injuries right now. UCLA is led by forward Reeves Nelson who is averaging 13.9 points to lead the team, 9 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.6 assists a game. Guard Malcolm Lee averages 13.1 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists a game. Forward Tyler Honeycutt averages 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and leads the team in blocks with 2 a game. Center Joshua Smith averages 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.1 block a game. Guard Lazeric Jones averages 9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, and leads the team in assists with 3.6 and steals with 1 a game. UCLA is outscoring opponents 70-66 on the year. The Bruins are shooting 45.6% from the field and and 32.9% from 3-point range. Bruin opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field. The Bruins shoot 68.1% from the free throw line. UCLA averages 37.4 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +4.6. The Bruins average 14.6 assists and 15 turnovers a game. UCLA forces 12.2 turnovers a game on defense. UCLA averages 5.5 steals and 5.9 blocks a game.
Florida has no significant injuries right now. The Gators are led by guard Erving Walker. He is averaging 14.5 points to lead the team, 2.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.1 steals a game to lead the team. He is shooting 38.7% from 3-point range. Guard Kenny Boynton is averaging 14.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game. Chandler Parsons averages 11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds to lead the team, 3.7 assists to lead the team, and 1 steal a game. Center Vernon Macklin is averaging 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and leads the team in blocks with 0.7 a game. He struggles from the free throw line converting only 46.2% from the stripe. Florida is outscoring opponents 72-63 on the season. The Gators are shooting 46.4% from the field and 35.6% from 3-point range. Gator opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field. The Gators shoot 66.9% from the free throw line. Florida averages 37.4 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +6.2. They average 14 assists and 12.4 turnovers a game. The Gators force 12.7 turnovers a game on defense. Florida averages 56 steals and 3.5 blocks a game.
These two teams are somewhat inconsistent, and you don’t know which team will show-up from game to game. Both are deep and talented and can score lots of points. Both are comfortable playing in the 60’s but can run if needed. I think Florida is a better team but UCLA certainly has the talent to pull the upset. I think it will be a close back and forth game.
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