Biggest Challenges UCLA Faces vs. Florida in Sweet 16 Matchup
The top half of the South Region has gone to chalk so far, and that means the No. 4 UCLA Bruins will take on the No. 1 Florida Gators in Memphis on Thursday night at approximately 9:45 p.m. ET.
The Bruins, who defeated No. 13 Tulsa and No. 12 Stephen F. Austin in San Diego last weekend, will have a massive task on their hands as they look to defeat the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
For Steve Alford's team to move on to the Elite Eight, the Bruins will have to overcome these five challenges that the matchup with Florida presents.
Contain Patric Young
There are few players across the nation that are as powerful as Patric Young is in the paint.
Young, who could easily become an NFL tight end after his collegiate career ends because of his build, has the ability to change a game at any moment.
Young may have had an off day against Pittsburgh on Saturday, but he still energized the team in the second half with an emphatic dunk.
Since he is a player that does not have to put up big numbers to get his team going, Young must be contained inside by the UCLA frontcourt players for every second that he is on the hardwood so that he can't make a game-changing play.
Keep Consistency in Backcourt
The UCLA guards impressed many with their performances during the first two rounds of the tournament.
Both Jordan Adams and Norman Powell scored in double digits in both games, while Kyle Anderson scored 23 points against Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin.
If the trio, who also contributed 32 total rebounds in the two clashes, continues the momentum into the game against Florida, the Bruins will have a strong chance of earning a victory.
Make Sure Scottie Wilbekin Does Not Control Pace
As we saw in the third-round game against Pittsburgh, Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin is able to control the pace of the game and score at will when he is at his best.
Wilbekin's play helped the Gators pull away from the Panthers in the second half, and he, just like Young, must be contained in the backcourt.
The senior averages 13.7 points and 3.7 assists per game, two stats that show he is not a one-trick pony.
If the guard combination of Powell and Adams can limit Wilbekin's production, they will also be able to dictate the pace of the game.
Get to the Free-Throw Line
After letting Albany reach the free-throw line on 14 occasions in the second round, Florida limited Pittsburgh's trips to the line in third round as the Panthers attempted just six free throws.
As a team, the Gators committed just seven personal fouls in 40 minutes, which is something that is unheard of in today's game.
Against a team that shows a ton of discipline, UCLA must find a way to do better than Pittsburgh and reach the charity stripe.
In their two opening games, the Bruins went 28-of-38 from the line, but we do have to take into account those contests were against a few mid-majors that are not as good as Florida.
For what its worth, UCLA committed 30 fouls in the first two games, which is a total that it must cut down on to have a chance of taking down the Gators.
Pound the Offensive Glass
The battle in the paint will be a curious one to watch as Young and Will Yeguete will go up against the Wear twins and Tony Parker.
One crucial factor that could decide the final result is how well both teams do on the offensive glass.
Both teams showed how powerful they can be in the offensive rebounding department last weekend, as UCLA snagged 13 boards against Tulsa, while Florida pulled down 14 of its own against Pittsburgh.
Whichever team owns the offensive rebounding advantage will be in a strong position to claim one of eight spots in the next round.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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