2:45pm, CBS, at Tampa, FL.
Will today be the day we pay our debts?
As our loyal readers know, I am very superstitious and live in constant fear of fate suddenly defeating the Gators. Today's game between No. 2 Florida and No. 7 UCLA fits that. In 2006 and 2007, Florida defeated UCLA, in the National Championship game and National Semifinal. But, in 2006, UCLA defeated USC to allow Florida to go to the BCS Championship Game. I'm hoping that UCLA's 16-3 curbstomp of Florida in the 2010 Women's College World Series was more than enough to make up for those three games.
As for the actual game, UCLA has one of those "Big Dudes" which give UF problems. In this case, it is 6-foot-10, 325 pound Josh Smith, who will surely eat Vernon Macklin while Alex Tyus spends the entire game attempting 18-foot fadeaway jumpers. The freshman averages 10.1 points per game and 6 rebounds. Against Michigan State, Smith played only 25 minutes, but scored 14 points. On the brightside, Patric Young looks like a grown man, now he needs to play like one.
Smith also means that Florida's chances to get inside will be drastically decreased. Florida will have to hit their open jumpers and try to get Smith in foul trouble, or make him winded. Like the Gators once did with Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Chris Richard on Greg Oden, you can neutralize a big man by throwing smaller bigs at him.
UCLA's Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt, both 6-foot-8 forwards, will be defensive problems for Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus. The key will be for UF to keep the game close and not fall into their usual first half swoon, and bank on a strong second half. UCLA might be thinking the reverse, after allowing 52 second half points to Michigan State.