The defense-first Florida Gators will get their stiffest March Madness test so far when they take on the offensive-minded UCLA Bruins in their South Regional semifinal showdown on Thursday night.
Best of all, this contest is offering college basketball gamblers a ton of value – if you look in all the right places that is. With that thought in mind, here’s the breakdown on this highly-anticipated regional semifinal.
Why UCLA Will Win Win The South Regional Semifinals
The Bruins will win this contest because they have an outstanding offense that finished 10th in the nation in scoring during the regular season and one of the most versatile backcourts as well. UCLA also proved they can beat the best teams in the nation by beating teams like Stanford (twice) and Arizona .
UCLA shoots a collective 49.1 percent from the field (ninth) and stellar 38.6 percent from beyond the arc (32nd) and has great length in the frontcourt with the 6-10 Wear twins and 6-9 Tony Parker doing the bulk of the work.
Could the Bruins Go…All the Way?
If they win this game, they very well could end up in the Final Four, but first they have to get past the consensus best team in the nation. I also don’t believe the Bruins have enough experience to win it all…so no, I don’t see UCLA hoisting the championship trophy, but stranger things have happened.
Why Florida Will Win The South Regional Semifinals
Florida will win because they’re the best team in the country right now. The Gators have won a whopping 28 consecutive games and have arguably the best defense of any team remaining in the tournament.
The Gators limited their opponents to just 57.5 points per game (third) while holding them to just 39.8 percent shooting from the field (23rd). Offensively, Florida shoots a collective 46.5 percent from the field (75th) while also finishing in the top 100 in three-point field goal percentage.
Florida is also experienced and has four double-digit scorers and at least two likely future NBA performers.
Could the Gators Go…All the Way?
Of course they could. Florida has already been picked by many to win it all and I can see why. Every time I watch the Gators, they simply don’t ‘look’ overly impressive. However, when I look up at the score, they’re usually up by double digits – and all up in their opponents’ jockstraps defensively.
The Winner Is…
Florida wins this contest simply because they are mentally tougher, more experienced than the UCLA Bruins. I also love the fact that Florida plays a tougher schedule in the SEC than UCLA does in the Pac-12 and that they’ve routinely fended off each and every team’s best shot.
The UCLA Bruins are a dismal 0-7 ATS in their last seven games against SEC foes while Florida has managed to go Gators are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning SU record and a consistent 19-8 ATS in their last 27 NCAA Tournament games.