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Sweet 16 Preview: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA

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On Wednesday and Thursday, we will be breaking down all eight of the Sweet 16 matchups. Here is our look at No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA:

RELATED: Sweet 16 Power Rankings | Top 16 Players | Eight Critical Individual Matchups

WHEN: Thursday, 9:45 p.m.

WHERE: FedEx Forum, Memphis (South Region)

MAJOR STORY LINES: Why doesn’t Billy Donovan’s come up more when discussing the best coach in college basketball? A win on Thursday will send him to his fourth consecutive Elite 8, the first three of which came with an offense built around Kenny Boynton. He’s won two National Titles and could end up making his fourth Final Four this season. He lands elite talent and can also develop players into quality pieces in for his system. At the same time, Steve Alford will be trying to make his first career Elite 8. His predecessor made three straight Final Fours and was fired after winning the Pac-12 title.

KEY STATS: There’s an argument to be made here that UCLA has the best transition attack in the country. An impressive 21.2% of their possessions are used in transition, a number that ranks them 13th nationally. They average 1.170 points-per-possession in transition as well, which gives them the most efficiency fast break among the 30 teams that have the highest percentage of transition possessions. Florida, however, ranks in the 95th percentile nationally in transition defense and, per KenPom, force teams into the second-longest average possession.

SWEET 16 PREVIEWSDayton-Stanford | Wisconsin-Baylor | Arizona-San Diego State

Iowa State-UConn | Michigan-Tennessee | Virginia-Michigan State | Louisville-Kentucky

KEY PLAYERS: The single-most important player on the floor in this game — and arguably the single-most important player left in the NCAA tournament — is Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin. He’s Florida’s closer, the guy that makes the big shots in the big moments as the Gators are trying to close out a game. I’m not sure there is a better ‘big shot maker’ in the country than Wilbekin, and I’m not sure that UCLA has an ideal matchup for him.

POINT SPREAD: Florida (-4.5)


1. Who guards Kyle Anderson?: Slo-mo is the most unique player in all of college basketball. He’s slow, he’s not all that explosive and he’s 6-foot-9, but he’s UCLA’s point guard, their facilitator offensively, while averaging 14.7 points, 8.7 boards and 6.5 assists. He’s so slow that he actually gets defenders off-balance, which, when combined with his ability to handle the ball, makes him a nightmare matchup for big men. Who does Florida use to guard him?

2. UCLA’s zone: Most of the elite teams in the country can be zoned pretty effectively this season, and Florida is one of those teams. The Gators don’t have a ton of perimeter shooters, and as a team they’re shooting just 25% from beyond the arc during the NCAA tournament. The Bruins play zone 36% of the time, according to Synergy.

3. Florida changing defenses: What makes the Gators so difficult to prepare for is the fact that they can give so many different looks defensively. They can play man-to-man, straight up or switching all exchanges 1-through-4. They can switch pick-and-rolls. They play an extended 1-3-1 zone that is a nightmare given their length and athleticism. They press on 16% of their defensive possessions. It is not easy to prepare for.


Sweet 16 Previews: No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton

Archie Miller
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On Wednesday and Thursday, we will be breaking down all eight of the Sweet 16 matchups. Here is our look at No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton:

RELATED: Sweet 16 Power Rankings | Top 16 Players | Eight Critical Individual Matchups

WHEN: Thursday, 7:15 p.m.

WHERE: FedEx Forum, Memphis (South Region)

MAJOR STORY LINES: Regardless of who ends up winning this game, there will be a double-digit seed playing for the right to go to the Final Four. What may be more interesting, however, is the effect that this run has had on the job status of both coaches. Johnny Dawkins was one of a handful of coaches that potentially had their job on the line in they missed the 2014 NCAA tournament. A run to the Elite 8 would not only save his job, it could result in Dawkins getting a raise. Archie Miller already got his. Getting a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team into the tournament was impressive enough, but the run to the Sweet 16 earned him a pay bump and a contract extension as he suddenly became a popular name in coaching circles.

KEY STATS: Despite their size, Stanford is not a great offensive rebounding team. Part of that is stylistic, as they just don’t put a priority on second chance points, but it also has to do with the fact that the Cardinal simply are not that good at defending in transition, ranking in the 37th percentile nationally in transition defense, according to Synergy. The Flyers aren’t exactly the second-coming of the Showtime Lakers, but they do get out and run, and they should have an advantage when they do.

SWEET 16 PREVIEWSWisconsin-Baylor | Florida-UCLA | Arizona-San Diego State

Iowa State-UConn | Michigan-Tennessee | Virginia-Michigan State | Louisville-Kentucky

KEY PLAYERS: Dyshawn Pierre and Devin Oliver. Stanford is going to have a decided size advantage over Dayton, particularly in the front court. If they can slow down Dwight Powell, who is Stanford’s best facilitator offensively despite being 6-foot-10, and Josh Huestis and take advantage of the matchup offensively, the Flyers will have a shot.

POINT SPREAD: It opened at Stanford (-2 or -2.5) and has moved to (-3).


1. Chasson Randle: The Stanford point guard that’s really a scoring guard will be the best player on the floor. More than anyone in this game, Randle is a guy that is capable of taking over offensively.

2. Turnovers: The Cardinal are generally pretty good at protecting the ball, but with Aaron Bright done for the season, Stanford can struggle with turnovers at times when they get pressed. It almost cost them the game against Kansas, and while Dayton isn’t exactly VCU, they have some athletes that they can roll out defensively.

3. Dayton’s shooters: The biggest strength for the Flyers offensively is their ability to shoot from the perimeter. They don’t have a ton of size inside, they’re not all that effective scoring around the rim and they can be turnover prone at times, but they shoot 37.6% from beyond the arc with Oliver and Pierre at 38.9% and 40.0% respectively. Powell and Huestis will have to get out to them.

CBT PREDICTION: No. 10 Stanford wins by 10

No. 4 UCLA reaches their first Sweet 16 since 2008

Stephen F. Austin v UCLA
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Jordan Adams finished with 19 points, Normal Powell added 16 and Kyle Anderson finished with 15 points, eight boards and five assists as No. 4 UCLA rolled past No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 77-60.

It will be the first trip for UCLA to the Sweet 16 since 2008. That was the last of three straight Final Four trips for former Bruins head coach Ben Howland, who was let go last season despite winning the Pac-12 title. The Bruins’ brass wanted to win more, especially in March, and it looks like Alford is getting that done.

And if you know anything about Alford’s past, there is some irony there. This is the first time that he has reached the Sweet 16 this century. Seriously. The last time that he was in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament was three jobs ago, when he was the head coach Southwest Missouri State and made a run as a No. 12 seed. He has won as many tournament games this season as he did in the 14 years between Sweet 16 trips.

The Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16, where they will have a date with the overall No. 1 seed, Florida. UCLA will have their work cut out for them in that game, as Florida’s last loss came on Dec. 2nd. They are undefeated with Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin both in the lineup.

The loss was the first for the Lumberjacks in exactly four months, as they had won 29 straight games.