Sharps Focus Picks on First Half in UCLA vs. Florida

Jeff Grant

Monday, March 24, 2014 2:45 PM GMT

Monday, Mar. 24, 2014 2:45 PM GMT

Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA Tournament odds for this Sweet 16 matchup in the South Region, with the opening tip scheduled for 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS from the FedExForum. We go over the trends and let you know why we have decided to focus on the first half with our NCAA Tournament picks.

The Florida Gators are one of the top defensive teams in the country, which could lead to early problems on the offensive end for the UCLA Bruins Thursday night.

Top dog 

Florida holds a 24-5 SU record as the top-ranked team in the nation, as it moved past Albany and Pittsburgh to reach this stage of the Big Dance.

The Gators are often at their best in March, which is clearly demonstrated in head coach Billy Donovan’s 33-11 mark in this event.

It’s important to point out that the program has covered the number in 19 of its last 27 NCAA Tournament games.

 

Trending upward
UCLA is playing its best basketball of the 2013-14 campaign, as it prepares to make its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008—advancing past Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin.

The Bruins entered their last game averaging 81.7 points per game, which happens to be their highest offensive output since 1997-98 (83.1). 

College basketball handicappers need to keep an eye on sophomore guard/forward Kyle Anderson, who is averaging nearly a triple-double on the season in points, rebounds and assists.

 

Clamping down
The Gators have won a program-record 28 consecutive games, as their defense continues to clamp down on opposing teams, especially in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Florida is surrendering just 27.2 points per game in the first half, which has played a big part in holding 26 of 36 opponents to 61 or fewer points over the course of a game.

 

Plenty of weapons
The Bruins have plenty of weapons offensively, as seven players on the roster have scored at least 20 points in one game since arriving in Westwood.

Jordan Adams joined Anderson in earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors, with the duo coming into its last game averaging 32.1 points per game.

[gameodds]14/262644/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds] 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Gators with their NCAA Basketball picks in the first half due to their experienced starting lineup—a group that has four seniors led by point guard Scottie Wilbekin.

Florida is the only team in the nation to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the past four years.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Florida Gators -2.5/-3 First Half

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