NCAA Basketball In-State Battle: UCF Knights at (7) Florida GatorsUCF at (8) Florida
TV: ESPN 3, 4 PM
Spread: FLA -16.5
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
UCF really jumped to the forefront of college basketball in 2010 when they were undefeated in December and nationally ranked, but since then things haven’t gone so well. They had recruiting violations and a one-year postseason ban, and they won’t be eligible to play in this year’s C-USA championship or in the NCAA tournament.
Still, UCF coach Donnie Jones remains “very excited” about the team’s prospects and feels “it’s a great time to be a part of what is happening.” It’s hard to agree with that notion given the NCAA sanctions, and even more so because the Knights lost C.J. Reed after seniors were eligible to transfer without penalty. Reed enrolled at Georgia Southern, taking away the best player from the Knights and leaving them as just another team in C-USA, instead of their rightful place as the juggernaut of the conference.
Son of MJ, Marcus Jordan, also won’t play because he just decided he was done with college.
Keith Clanton will be the entire team, basically, but he is very good. Clanton averaged 14.5 points per game last year and 8.1 rebounds per game, and he’s joined by Isaiah Sykes, who put up 12.3 points per game.
Sykes is leading the team in scoring through four games, averaging 17 points per game and five rebounds per game (which also leads the team).
Clanton has been impressive as expected, too, averaging 17 points per game and a team high 11.8 rebounds per game, while also blocking 2.8 shots per night and shooting 53 percent from the floor.
Still…even if that core can get some work done, it won’t matter much since UCF can’t play in the postseason. Somehow, though, Donnie Jones remains hopelessly optimistic in the light of the horrible scandal. College basketball oddsmakers aren’t quite as optimistic, predicting the Knights to fall by 16.5 points to the vaunted Florida Gators.
The Florida Gators finished 26-11 last year with a 10-6 record in the SEC. They lost to Louisville in the Elite Eight in March, after knocking out Virginia, Norfolk State and Marquette.
The Gators lost Bradley Beal to the NBA draft and Erving Walker departed, too, but they return a talented roster led by Kenny Boynton, a 6’2? senior, who averaged 15.9 points per game last year. In addition to Boynton, they also return Patric Young and
Erik Murphy, a tandem of forward/centers who both averaged 10-plus point s per game last year and combined to average nearly 11 rebounds per game.
Murphy is a 6’10? stretch-4 who will be entering his second season as a stater. He’s a 41.7 percent three points shooter and is becoming an interior presence on defense as well, as he blocked 37 shots last year. Murphy is averaging 13.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game through the Gators first four games.
Young shot 61.8 percent form the floor last year and is becoming a better offensive player. He’s also worked a lot on his conditioning, and his 249 pound frame is becoming more chiseled with each passing month. Young is averaging 10.5 points per game and eight rebounds per game so far this season.
Boynton improved his three point shooting every season as a Gator. He shot 29 percent his freshman year, 33 percent his sophomore, and then over 40 percent last year as a junior.
Boynton is averaging 14.3 points per game and 2.8 assists per game in just under 30 minutes per game through the Gators first four contests.
Boynton is quick and a good scorer and could make the leap to the NBA level, if he’s able to answer questions about his ability to play both guard spots. Boynton averaged under three assists per game last year, but as a 6’2? guard he will have to prove he can effectively run a team to make it at the next level. With Erving Walker gone, he’ll have every opportunity to prove he can do it.
Florida can contend with Kentucky in the SEC, but they need everyone to remain healthy and need huge contributions from both Young and junior Scottie Wilbekin, in addition to Boynton being brilliant. Gators coach Billy Donovan will have to contend with lacking a lot of size, but should be able to make up for it if he utilizes the Gators’ strengths and pushes the pace to take advantage of his backcourt’s talent.
UCF Betting Trends:
Knights are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 on Friday, 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 following an SU loss, 5-16 ATS in their last 21 following an ATS loss, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 on the road, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 on the road vs teams with winning SU record, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 following a double digit loss at home.
Florida Betting Trends:
Gators are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs teams with winning pcts above .600, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs teams with winning SU records, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 overall, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 following SU wins, 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 vs teams with winning road records.