Following a too-close-for-comfort 53-49 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies, the UCLA Bruins are set to take on the red-hot Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
The Hilltoppers have won of eight games in a row and 19 of their last 20.
In the first round, the Hilltoppers knocked off another potential Cinderella, five-seed Drake, in the most thrilling game of the tourament so far. Western Kentucky followed that up with a 10-point victory over the upstart San Diego Toreros.
The Hilltoppers have the talent to keep up with UCLA, especially in the backcourt with Ty Brazelton and Courtney Leethe. But the Bruins' physical defense should wear Western Kentucky out.
Playing in the Sun Belt, Western Kentucky has not played against a defense anywhere close to as tough as UCLA's.
The Bruins play 40 minutes of hard-nosed, physical man-to-man defense. Even the biggest and most seasoned players get worn down by the end of games.
Plus, the Bruins' defense has been top-notch during the tournament, allowing only 78 points total in two games thus far.
Offensively, the Hilltoppers will have no answer for Kevin Love. Love was quiet against Texas A&M's big front line until the game's final minutes, but the Hilltoppers don't have anywhere near the size of the Aggies.
Expect UCLA to feed Love the ball early and often, and expect 20 points minimum from the Pac-10 player of the year.
Prediction: UCLA tops the Hilltoppers, 68-55.
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