NCAA Bracket 2011: Billy Donovan's Gators vs. the Confident Gauchos

Patrick MangumContributor IMarch 17, 2011

NCAA Bracket 2011: Billy Donovan's Gators vs. the Confident Gauchos

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The No. 2 seed Florida Gators will face the 7 seed UCLA Bruins on Saturday.

    In a game between familiar Florida foes UCLA and Michigan State, the Bruins advanced to face the Gators.

    The Gators out manned the Gauchos 71-59 to move into the round of 32 teams.

    Every win from here on out will be a first for Florida since 2007.

Vernon Macklin and Erving Walker

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    Seniors Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus, and Vernon Macklin get their first tournament win with the Gators.

    Last year, Donovan was concerned about his team just being happy to be there. He doesn’t think that's what happened last year and he doesn’t expect it to happen this year.

    Donovon emphasized the importance of playing through frustration when things aren't going your way.

    He also said they need to be more physical around the rim.

    More than once during his press conference before the NCAA Tournament, Billy Donovon singled out Vernon Macklin and Erving Walker as guys that need to play better.

Future NBA Lottery Pick Patric Young and 17 Year Old Phenom Scottie Wilbekin

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    Freshmen Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin provide a jolt of energy off the bench.

    Donovan said the Gators need their presence off the bench.

    Wilbekin’s confidence comes from knowing what he can do to affect the outcome of the game and then doing those things. It sounds pretty simple but sometimes it can take a kid a few years to figure that out.

    He’ll play great defense, knock down an open shot and he’ll handle the ball and get the offense flowing.

SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Billy Donovan was asked if he would’ve predicted a player of the year award for Chandler Parsons when he first arrived on campus.

    “No” was the simple answer. He said Chandler’s mental growth from his sophomore to his junior year was amazing.

    He added that in his first two years, Parsons was a “disaster” at the end of games.

    Now, he considers him one of the most resilient players he’s seen.

    Donovan was asked about the team facing bigger guards in the tournament. He said that’s just a part of starting smaller guards. He thinks Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker are competitive enough to overcome height disadvantages.

Sophomore Kenny Boynton

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    I think you learn more about a team after a loss than a win.

    Kenny Boynton chose to look at the loss against Kentucky as a good thing. He likes the fact that after a loss, the Gators watch film, see what to work on and come out better the next game. It looked Florida achieved that against UC-Santa Barbara.

    As far as what he took away from the Kentucky film, the sophomore guard said the Gators need to finish better at the rim and be better in their zone offense.

    He looks for it to be a home crowd in Tampa.

    One of the reporters tried to bait Boynton with a question about Kentucky fans. It sounded like he was trying to get a quote out of him wanting Gator basketball fans to travel more like Kentucky fans. He didn't bite.

Prediction

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Billy Donovan’s team was effective at switching defenses (from man to zone) during possessions in the SEC Tournament. That should cause trouble for teams not ready for it.

    For me, there are three keys: foul shooting, fouling, and composure.

    The first two games in the SEC tournament, the gators averaged 18-26 from the free throw line and only 14 fouls a game. In the loss against Kentucky, the Gators committed 22 fouls and only shot 3-8 from the stripe. The Gators also let their frustration show and it affected their game. These are three things I will watch for in tourney time.

    At this time of year, a team's preparation is more about itself than the other team. Because of lack of knowledge of other teams' systems and lack of preparation time, it's best to just focus on getting better as a team.

    This game will be close at halftime. Watch for how each team comes out for the first five minutes of the second half. It could decide the game. I think the Gators come out swinging and knock out the Gauchos 74-56.

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