NCAA game previews
Jon Wilner's picks for Thursday's matchups:
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA (6:45 p.m., CBS): The marquee game of the day matches the tournament's No. 1 overall seed against the sizzling owners of five consecutive wins and 11 national championships. The Gators, who haven't lost since early December, play stout halfcourt defense and are well balanced offensively, with four players averaging between 11 and 14 points. They're led by one of the best guards in the tournament in senior Scottie Wilbekin and have a big man, Patric Young, capable of altering shots. The Bruins rely heavily on two major talents in wing Jordan Adams and versatile forward Kyle Anderson (32 points per game combined), with an effective complement of role players. But they aren't sound enough defensively to stop the Gators as often as the Gators will stop them. Pick: Florida.
No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton (4:15 p.m., CBS): The only matchup of double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16 is a contrast in size and styles. The Cardinal relies on long-armed forwards Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell to disrupt opponents, while undersized Dayton -- big man Devin Oliver is only 6-foot-7 -- is built on speed and fiestiness. Neither team possesses an elite offense: Stanford has 118 points in two NCAA games; Dayton has 115. The Flyers will apply as much pressure as possible against Stanford's wobbly ballhandlers, but when the game slows in the final eight minutes and every possession matters, the Cardinal's size and stingy defense will be the difference. Simply put: It couldn't have asked for a better Sweet 16 matchup. Pick: Stanford.
No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State (7:17 p.m., TBS): A rematch of Arizona's nine-point win at SDSU in November that wasn't pretty to watch. Both teams play ferocious halfcourt defense and both possess elite guards: Pac-12 player of the year Nick Johnson leads Arizona in scoring (16.3 points) and is a first-rate defender, while Xavier Thames is often a one-man-show for the Aztecs -- as when he scored 30 of their 63 points in the third-round win over North Dakota State. But Thames can't eliminate Arizona by himself, and the Aztecs' role players aren't good enough to score in the clutch against the Wildcats' frontcourt defenders, in particular Archbishop Mitty alum Aaron Gordon. Pick: Arizona.
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor (4:47 p.m., TBS): Baylor looks like it's straight out of the NBA with an impressive stable of athletes, including 7-1 center Isaiah Austin and 6-9 forward Cory Jefferson. When the moon and stars align, the Bears are capable of beating anyone. After demolishing Creighton, they face one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the field. The Badgers can't match Baylor's athleticism, but they are smart, skilled and sound defensively. The outcome hinges on Wisconsin's perimeter game. If the Badgers shoot well, they can set their halfcourt defense. Pick: Wisconsin.