Minnesota was one of 17 teams that entered the NCAA tournament with a 30 or higher rating in the Alphabetical Guide to teams, and for all of the upsets in the first round, their destruction of UCLA made those teams 14-3 in the opening round. NC State, Georgetown and Pitt were the only teams with 30+ ratings to lose, and UCLA minus their best player Jordan Adams was no match.
The game was considered another upset due to Minnesota’s 11-seed, but the Gophers experience completely overmatched the occasional highlight reel dunk by Shabazz Muhammad on the way to the NBA.
Minnesota got to the basket at will, whether in a set offense or on the break. They forced UCLA to collapse, and then the Austin and Andre Hollins simply waited along the three-point arc for a kickback, where they combined to go 9 of 14 on three-pointers to finish with 16 and 28 points respectively.
Marquette transfer and sixth year senior Trevor Mbakwe (pictured) skipped the NBA draft last year for the opportunity to take another shot at the NCAA tournament, and he dominated inside with 12 rebounds.
Except for seven minutes from center Tony Parker, UCLA played only six players against 11 for Minnesota, and it seemed whoever the Gophers threw on the court knew how to get to the passing lanes en route for an easy layup or short jumper.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, they now go up against another 30+ team in Florida in the second round Sunday to try to advance to the Sweet 16.
Muhammad did score 20 points despite missing all six of his three-pointers, and Norman Powell did his best to keep it closer for a while with the only five steals of the night for UCLA.