(2)Florida vs. (7)UCLA
Guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combined to score 31 points and hit 5-10 shots from behind the three-point line as the Florida Gators cruised past UC-Santa Barbara, 79-51, in their second round match-up. Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons recorded his eighth double-double of the season, scoring ten points and dishing out ten assists while chipping in seven rebounds and two steals in the win, which was Coach Billy Donovan’s first victory in the NCAA Tournament since winning back-to-back national championships 2006 and 2007. The Gators’ starters made 23-36 (.639) field goal attempts and recorded 19 assists with just six turnovers as four Florida players scored in double-figures.
(7) UCLA Bruins
After a slow start to the season, the UCLA Bruins have won 14 of their last 18 games, including their victory over Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament. After leading the Spartans by 23 points with less than nine minutes to play, UCLA allowed Michigan State to claw its way back into the game, turning the ball over on four consecutive possessions (16 overall) and missing 17 total free throws as MSU closed the gap to one with eight seconds left in regulation. Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt each had 16 points, leading four Bruins in double-figures as Coach Ben Howland’s team advanced to the round of 32. UCLA will have to find a way to knock down free throws and must make better decisions with the ball as they advance in the tournament and the competition grows stiffer.The Bruins rank 198th (out of 336 teams) nationally in free throw percentage and 266th in turnovers.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Florida. The Gators’ balanced offensive attack, which is equally effective inside and out, will prove to be too much for a young UCLA team.