Of course lot of folks in the traditional media are going to be writing about the UCLA-Florida matchup as game between two very different team playing at different tempos. Everyone will be wondering how UCLA's defense will be dealing with Florida's fast-paced multi-dimensional offense. What lot of people will be miss the point on how UCLA itself also gets out on its own fastbreaks as well. One writer who didn't miss this point and actually cared to look beyond the obvious storly lines is Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News. DeCourcy disspells some conventional wisdom on tempo and has some other good observations on tomorrow night's game in his latest blog post at Sporting News:
So Sunday morning, the prevailing theme was about how Florida likes to run and UCLA likes to walk. An interesting theory, if only it were true.
Florida runs when it can, walks when it must.
Same thing at UCLA.
"I don't think we're low-scoring," says Bruins point guard Jordan Farmar. "We just do what it takes to win, and we're smart."
Since March began, Florida has won nine games, scoring 70 or more in seven and 59 or less in two. In that period, UCLA has won 10 games, scoring 70 or more in six and 59 or less in two. The conclusion: both teams will play at the pace they need to win.
Team Tempo Off Eff. Def. Eff. Eff.
(Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.) (Nat'l Rk.) Mrgn.
UCLA 63.3 (306) 113.2 (24) 83.8 (3) +29.4
UF 68.6 (120) 117.7 (6) 87.1 (8) +30.6
What it means: The general impression of the title game is that it features two elite defenses and only one elite offense (Florida's). The second part just ain't true. The Bruins' unhurried pace -- they're the 306th slowest out of 334 teams in Division I -- keeps their scoring totals low, but their offense, which was running on all cylinders against LSU in the first half, operates at a high level of efficiency. Couple that with UCLA's incredibly stout D, and its Efficiency Margin -- the spread between its offensive and defensive ratings -- is within 1.2 points per 100 possessions of Florida's (at 29.4 to 30.6). In a game that's likely to have a possession total in the low-to-mid-60s, the difference between the teams is miniscule.