Searching for revenge (cont.)
Posted: Friday March 30, 2007 10:04AM; Updated: Friday March 30, 2007 11:50AM
UCLA's Josh Shipp
Shipp is the Bruins' X-factor and didn't play in last year's title game as he missed the season with a hip injury. He scored a career-high 24 points in UCLA's first-round win over Long Beach State. Athletic and dangerous from the outside, Shipp can hurt the Gators if they pay too much attention to Afflalo.
Florida's Joakim Noah
Noah is Florida's heart and soul and the Gators are fueled by his emotion. He hasn't been as dominant this season, however, and has shown a tendency to disappear at times. He must stay under control, work the inside-out game with the Gators' guards and hit the boards hard. If he does that and stays out of foul trouble, he'll have a monster game.
UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Mbah a Moute appeared to be headed for superstardom last season but has slipped a little this year. He's a gifted athlete who can score, but he's still learning the game. Mbah a Moute has struggled in the NCAA tournament, shooting just 30.4 percent from the field. To be effective against Florida he'll have to pull Noah away from the basket and use his speed to get by him.
Florida's Al Horford
This is where the game was won last year and it's likely to be decided here again. Florida's inside advantage is even more pronounced this season. Horford is tenacious on the boards and his offensive game has improved steadily. He'll need to remain patient, pass out of double teams and attack, attack, attack.
UCLA's Lorenzo Mata
Mata will have his hands full in the paint and will need plenty of help. The important thing for him is to stay home and box out. Limited offensively, he has to make the most of his touches and force Horford and Noah to work for everything. Mata did a good job against Pitt 7-footer Aaron Gray, holding him to 10 points, and must be just as effective against Florida. He must also be physical without getting into foul trouble. That's a fine line.
THE PICK: FLORIDA 64, UCLA 58