(2) Florida vs. (3) BYU
Erving Walker continued his strong play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament as Florida advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a 73-65 win over UCLA on Saturday. Walker, a 5-8 guard, is averaging 19.5 points and four assists through the first weekend of the tournament while shooting .625 (10-16) from the field and .583 (7-12) from behind the three-point line. After UCLA narrowed the Gators lead to one on a Josh Smith layup with 1:33 left to play, Walker scored Florida’s final seven points, including a three-pointer to push the lead back to four followed by four free throws (all on one-and-ones) to put the game on ice. Coach Billy Donovan’s team shot 50 percent from the field and nearly 43 percent from deep but did most of its damage on the defensive end, holding the Bruins less than 42 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent (3-13) from three-point land.
(3) BYU Cougars
If Jimmer Fredette can be stopped, nobody told Coach Mark Few’s Gonzaga team how to get it done as the nation’s leading scorer torched the Zags for 34-points in an 89-67 victory for BYU. The 6-2 senior is averaging 34.7 points in his last seven games but, despite the suspension of leading rebounder and third-leading scoring Brandon Davies, Fredette’s teammates played big roles in helping the Cougars trounce Gonzaga and advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1981. Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Emery knocked down three three-pointers on his way to 16 points, four assists and three steals while forwards Noah Hartsock and Stephen Rogers combined for 23 points (making 8-9 field goals and 4-5 from distance) in just 30 total minutes. Gonaga’s front court duo of Robert Sacre and Elias Harris gave BYU fits. What will Florida’s front line do?
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Florida. The Gators are an experienced team with a deep, talented frontline, a dynamic backcourt duo and a two-time national champion coach. Jimmer Fredette is good, but he isn’t that good.