UCLA Bruins v. Florida Gators By The Numbers

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

With the Bruins getting ready to take on the the Florida Gators tomorrow night, we continue the traditional March Madness series of posts on BN looking at some of the stats and rankings underlying the performance of UCLA's next NCAA Tournament opponent.

Of course it had to come to this... The Bruins face a familiar foe in tomorrow's Sweet 16 game in Billy Donovan's Florida Gators. DCBruins and chrissorr have done great jobs in previewing the game, so i'll skip the setup and just jump in here.

Florida enters Thursday's game with a 34-2 record, having earned the SEC's automatic bid and the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament by going undefeated in conference play and winning the SEC Tournament by defeating Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky - The Bruins and Gators have seen their final two conference tournament opponents advance alongside them to the Sweet 16. The Gators opened Tournament play with a 67-55 win over Albany, followed by a 61-45 victory against Pitt that extended Florida's now-longest active winning streak to 28 games.

Entering March Madness, the Gators played a total of 10 games against NCAA Tournament opponents, going 8-2 overall, including 3-0 marks against both Kentucky and Tennessee (home, away and SEC Tournament wins against each) along with wins over Kansas in Gainesville and Memphis at Madison Square Garden. Florida's two losses this season came in games at UConn and Wisconsin.

UCLA and Florida have two common opponents: Alabama and Missouri. The Bruins defeated Alabama 75-67 at Pauley Pavilion and lost at Missouri by the score of 80-71, while the Gators won both of their games against the Tide; 68-62 on the road, and 78-69 in Gainesville. Florida also beat Mizzu twice this season; 68-58 at home, and 72-49 in their SEC Tournament opening game.

Now to the numbers...

RPI: UCLA: #14, Florida: #1

BPI (ESPN): UCLA: #13, Florida: #2

Ken Pomeroy: UCLA: #11, Florida: #1

Sagarin: UCLA: #8, Florida: #3

As I mentioned in more detail in my opening post before the Tulsa game, each of these rankings are based on differing philosophies regarding the factors that make a team good or bad, and different ways in measuring success in creating a ranking. While the NCAA's official RPI was frozen after the last of the conference championship games on Selection Sunday, the other computer rankings have been updated with the results of each NCAA tournament game, as well as NIT and other postseason results. The Bruins have moved up a few spots in each of those rankings since Selection Sunday.

These various metrics saw the Bruins as a proper 4-seed entering the tournament, with the updated ratings now having us as a roughly 3-seed quality team. Florida has not dealt with as much variance or movement. They entered the Tournament as the #1 overall seed, supported by their #1 ranking per the RPI. The only definite variance in the rankings is over where they rate in the Arizona/Florida/Louisville troika that have been considered championship favorites by the computers. Sagarin's average ranking gives Florida about a 3 2/3-point advantage on a neutral court, though his newer "Golden Mean" component ranking narrows that margin to 2 points.

Now, here is a look at the efficiency metrics and pace of play for the Gators and Bruins, as calculated by Ken Pomeroy.

Florida:

  • Offense: 115.9 points/100 possessions (#18 in D-1)
  • Defense: 88.9 points/100 possessions (#2 in D-1)
  • Pace: 63.1 possessions/40 minutes (#320 in D-1)

UCLA:

  • Offense: 117.4 points/100 possessions (#12 in D-1)
  • Defense: 97.0 points/100 possessions (#45 in D-1)
  • Pace: 69.6 possessions/40 minutes (#42 in D-1)

There isn't much point comparing the Gators to 13th-seeded Tulsa's squad, or Stephen F. Austin's numbers - though the Lumberjacks and Gators have played at roughly the same (very slow) pace this season. While in my previous posts I have compared those component portions of the KenPom rankings of Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin to different Bruin opponents, there really isn't much point in going that broadly today.

In terms of offensive and defensive efficiency as well as overall ranking, Florida's closest match from this year's schedule is Arizona. Observers have rated the Wildcat and Gator defenses as the best in college basketball, and the computers agree, with the teams coming in 1st and 2nd in Pomeroy's efficiency rating - the difference in raw rating between Arizona at #1 and Florida at #2 is nearly the same as the difference between #2 and Saint Louis' #8th rated defense, but still, a very elite defense.

While Florida's D has been a shade less efficient than Arizona's, their offense rates better than the 27th-rated Wildcat attack. UCLA has been one of the highest scoring teams in the nation this season, but once you control for the difference in pace with Florida, the Gator offense has only been worth about 1 point/game less than UCLA's, and rates about a point and a half better than Arizona's over the course of the season. Florida plays at a slower pace than any Bruin opponent this season but Washington State - but nearly equivalent to last weekend's opponent, Stephen F. Austin - though the Wildcats are also rate among the slower 1/3 of teams in D-1 this year, averaging 1.5 possessions/game more than the Gators.

Using the above efficiency measures, together with the average pace of the two teams' play, the average game score of each team, based upon an equal schedule composed of average Division 1 teams would be:

Florida: 73-56

UCLA: 82-68

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