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Northwestern Wildcats embrace role of underdogs as they take on UCLA

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS) -- It's another action-packed day of NCAA Tournament games, with one of the highlights being Northwestern taking on UCLA Saturday night.

The Wildcats are in familiar territory as the big underdog to the No. 2-seeded Bruins. But as CBS 2's Matt Zahn reported, that is a role they embrace.

Northwestern is a loose group coming off that first-round win against Boise State. But the focus has quickly shifted to getting ready to face a great UCLA team on short notice.

"It's a challenge for everybody in the tournament, you know? One day to prepare," said Northwestern guard Boo Buie. "You've just got to lock in. You've got to lock into your own principles - because you might not be able to scout a whole team in a day. We scouted them, but it depends on our defense and our focus."

"Staying disciplined, doing things that we're good at – and I think just, who wants it more?" said Northwestern guard Chase Audige. "At the end of the day, I think that's what it comes down to in a lot of these games – who wants it more?"

While UCLA is the much higher-seeded team with a much richer tournament history, there are some similarities between these two veteran squads that both play tough defense.

"We told our guys it's like we're playing ourselves, schematically – and then you combine that with really good guard play, said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin. But schematically – their coaching and what they do defensively, I really like it – because they know who they are, and they're never confused."

"I want the guys to go out there and just play ball. We're playing a great team. We know it's going to be tough," said Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins. "It's going to be a battle – they're physical, they're good – and we've got to come out and do the things that we do well."

"They're expected to win the game, so we come in, I feel, with no pressure on our shoulders," said Northwestern center Matthew Nicholson. "That's why I think we have the advantage.

Collins said one of his biggest concerns is rebounding. The 'Cats struggled with that against Boise State, and as Collins put it UCLA is a much more physical, athletic team.

The game starts at 7:40 p.m.

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