UCLA vs. FLORIDA HOW TO WATCH AND GAME INFO
WHAT: South Regional Semifinal
WHO: 4-seed UCLA Bruins vs. 1-seed Florida Gators
WHEN: Thursday, March 27 9:45 ET/6:45 PT
WHERE: FedEx Forum, Memphis
TV/STREAMING: CBS/March Madness Live
HOW THEY GOT HERE
UCLA Bruins (Pac-12 automatic bid)
• Round of 64: 76-59 vs. No. 13 Tulsa
• Round of 32: 77-60 vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin
Florida Gators (SEC automatic bid)
• Round of 64: 67-55 vs. No. 16 Albany
• Round of 32: 61-45 vs. No. 9 Pitt
There isn’t a more stark contrast in Sweet 16 styles than this clash of Florida’s ballyhooed defense against the free-wheeling game plan UCLA favors. Gators head coach Billy Donovan has his best team since the 2006-2007 back-to-back championship squads—both of which beat UCLA in the Final Four.
Florida put on a defensive clinic in the SEC semifinal against Tennessee, a team with long, versatile perimeter players capable of high point production in a similar vein as UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. Tennessee is the No. 16-ranked team in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings; UCLA is 12th. The Vols are also in the Sweet 16, the result of a steady offensive outpouring in three wins (they were one of the last bubble teams and had to play their way in via the First Four).
But efficiency numbers only tell a portion of the story. Tennessee’s offense could run really hot but also really cold and the latter was particularly true against competent defensive opponents. UCLA has been much more consistent.
A confounding and ugly loss at Washington State aside, the Bruins have scored at least 74 points in 13 consecutive games. Included in that stretch is a 75-71 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game—noteworthy because Arizona is the only team with a higher adjusted defensive efficiency rating than the Gators and the Bruins hit that 75-point mark against the Wildcats twice.
Slowing down obviously starts with limiting Anderson, which is easier said than done. At 6-foot-9—with “a wingspan of 7-foot-3,” as head coach Steve Alford was quick to point out via ASAPSports.com—Anderson is more comparable to a video game create-a-player than other collegiate point guards. Lock-down defender Scottie Wilbekin has the assignment of stopping Anderson.
“He’s definitely a unique cover,” Wilbekin said per ASAPSports.com. “We’re just going to try to keep him out of the lane, not let him get a step because he obviously has great length. So if he gets a step on you, he can finish over and around you.”
How the Gators opt to cover Adams, a dangerous 3-point shooter, will also dictate tempo. Expect to see 6-foot-8 Dorian Finney-Smith draw that assignment.
For Florida, stout big man Patric Young poses his own matchup problems for the Bruins post players. Young is not as long as 6-foot-10 twins David and Travis Wear—he is generously listed at 6-foot-9—but he’s a hard-nosed bruiser on the blocks who looks like he’d be just as much at home on the Florida defensive line as manning the post.