- Eamonn Brennan, College Basketball Reporter
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A look around the South Region ...
What to watch: An offense-defense matchup for the ages. The Gators are one of the nation's two or three best defenses. They enter Thursday's game ranked No. 2 in adjusted defensive efficiency (and sixth in pure points allowed per possession). UCLA is one of the nation's best, most efficient, most finesse offenses. The Bruins don't rebound their own misses or draw fouls, but they shoot so well that they usually don't need to.
Who to watch: UCLA guards Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson are two of the nation's best players, and they may be the two most talented players on the court in Thursday's game. But the Gators have some talent of their own and are one of the few teams capable of throwing multiple matchups and looks (Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, even Patric Young) at Adams and Anderson for 40 minutes.
Why watch: Can anyone stop Florida's march to the Final Four? With Kansas at No. 2 and Syracuse No. 3, the Gators' regional could have been as daunting as any other team's. Now it's up to the Bruins to halt Florida's machinelike run -- or leave it up to Dayton or Stanford on Saturday night.
What to watch: Statistically speaking, the two least likely Sweet 16 participants are also the most well-matched: Each team's offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency ranks overlap with the other. But that tells only part of the story. Dayton is a physical and athletic but largely perimeter-oriented team, while Stanford uses its size to hunker down and prevent easy baskets on the defensive end. Can the Flyers shoot over the top?
Who to watch: Dayton's guards and wings have earned the lion's share of praise in the lead-up to this game, and rightfully so -- Vee Sanford, Jordan Sibert, Dyshawn Pierre and Devin Oliver make the Flyers go. Which is why it will be so crucial that Stanford gets a good game out of point guard Chasson Randle on both ends of the floor.
Why watch: Neither of these teams is a true mid-major, and neither is exactly an underdog, either. Dayton is a basketball-obsessed town with a dedicated fan base, and Stanford is, well, Stanford. But basketball-wise, these are still the two teams making the most surprising runs of the tournament to date, and now at least one of them will reach the Elite Eight. That's March at its best, right?
A look around the South Region ...FLORIDA vs. UCLAWhat to watch: An offense-defense matchup for the ages. The Gators are one of the nation's two or three best defenses.