NCAA Finals (and some baseball too)

Kurt —  April 3, 2006

It doesn’t get much better for a sports day in Los Angeles — Dodger opening day in the afternoon and UCLA in the NCAA title game at night. Great day to for me to be stuck in the office, swamped with work.

No deep thoughts here on the Dodgers ’I’ll leave that to those who know the team better, but I’ll talk a little about the NCAA title game (we’ll get back to the Lakers tomorrow).

Actually, I’ll crib from and point you to, where Ken Pomory (he sometimes of ESPN insider) uses all my favorite stats to track the NCAA. And what does his methodology predict for tonight? UCLA 63, Florida 63. Actually, it was 62.9 to 62.9, if you want to be picky. Which means after the blowouts Saturday this one should be close.

About UCLA:

UCLA has balance, with every player except the point guards sporting offensive ratings better than 100 (points per 100 possessions). Jordan Farmar’s shot selection has been maligned in this space before, and a prime example was given against LSU. He took a couple of ill-advised 3s, but they went in. When that’s happening and the Bruins manage to get over 40% of possible offensive rebounds (they got 44.1% against LSU), the opposing defense is in trouble.

About Florida:

Florida’s offense is very effective as well. I’d like to focus on Corey Brewer, who started the season 16 of 67 (23.9%) on 3s and has gone 24 of 50 (48.0%) since. Along with Lee Humphrey (45.8%) and Taurean Green (39.6%), Florida has three solid, nearly spectacular, long-ball threats to go with the two future-NBA big men. So double-team at your own peril, Ben Howland. We know Howland isn’t going to double with a guard, and he may still double Joakim Noah at selective times in the low post, leaving the somewhat more offensively challenged Al Horford.

Pace could be key in this one, a few easy baskets in transition (or, conversely, sloppy transition defense) could swing this game. The way LSU was overwhelmed with UCLA’s defensive intensity and speed, I think Florida will have a challenge adjusting as well. The Bruins will need some big nights defensively from their big men — Hollins and Mata in particular — but I say they get it and win by 5.