Southeast, New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
(2) Florida Gators vs. (3) BYU Cougars (7:27 on TBS): Love 'em, hate 'em, overrate 'em, underate 'em, guard 'em, double-guard 'em, triple-guard 'em, whatever 'em you choose it's tough to deny how much fun BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette is to watch. And, it's obvious that the No. 3-seeded Cougars (25-10) are going to ride the nation's leading scorer (28.8 ppg) all the way to the Final Four if they can.
In round one of the tournament, I witnessed a solid effort from No. 14-seeded Wofford to stop Fredette -- I've never seen a player so tightly guarded than Fredette was against the Terriers. However, the upstate New York native (Glens Falls, N.Y.) still ended up collecting 32 points in a 74-66 victory. Against No. 11 Gonzaga, the Naismith Award finalist and Sporting New Player Of The Year netted a game-best 34 points that included shooting 7-of-12 from the 3-point land.
"They were just falling tonight. Sometimes that happens," said Fredette after Saturday's victory. "You have off nights, then you come back and have good nights. Kind of the law of percentages throughout the year. I just felt good tonight. I was fortunate to make some shots."
However, if there's one coach that can stop the 6-foot-2 guard its Florida's head coach Billy Donovan, who has led the Gators to a 24-8 NCAA Tournament record.
"They’ll run some screening action and they’ll set some pick and rolls for him, but he has the ability to take the ball and do what he needs to do even if people are away from him," said Donovan, a two-time NCAA Tournament champion, at Monday's news conference.
"They’re a better team than they were last year. Jimmer certainly gets a lot of publicity and a lot of exposure, but it’s really their whole team. We realize that he’s certainly a hard guy to defend and stop, but they’ve got some other good players."
Last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Fredette netted 37 points in a 99-92, double-overtime victory over the then No. 10-seeded Gator's. The win snapped a seven-game, first-round losing streak for the Cougars.
The Gators' loss was hard to swallow considering it ended an impressive 12-game winning streak in the NCAA Tournament.
Junior guard Erving Walker is Florida's leading scorer (14.7 ppg), but teammate sophomore guard Kenny Boynton is a close second (14.0 ppg). In two games of the NCAA Tournament, Walker is shooting .625 (10-of-16) from the field and .636 (7-of-11) from three point range.
Also, the Gators defense maybe able to slow down the sharp-shooting Fredette considering they have not allowed more than six 3-point attempts in their last seven games.
Predictions: I do like Donovan's experience behind the bench and I do think he'll be able to slow down Fredette just a little bit. However, I am biased and would like to see Jimmer lead the Cougars to the Final Four. BYU wins, 64-56.