South Region Sweet 16 Predictions: #3 Florida Gators vs #15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

2013 NCAA Tournament – South Regional Semifinal
#3 Florida Gators vs #15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Friday, March 29, 2013, 10:05 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Opening Line: Florida -12 1/2
Current Line: Florida -13
Opening Total: 132
Current Total: 136
Opening Money Line: Florida -1100 / FGCU +750
Current Money Line: Florida -1000 / FGCU +700

Florida is a 12 point favorite against Florida Gulf Coast Friday night.

Florida is a 13 point favorite against Florida Gulf Coast Friday night.

The Florida Gators have been a top ten team all season, and were even in consideration for one of the four #1 seeds for a while. Yet, they are overshadowed by their opponent in the South Regional semifinal. With good reason too, as the #15 seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles are the lowest seed to ever reach the sweet 16. The tiny school from Fort Myers was founded in 1991 and has only played basketball for 6 years. Their coach Andy Enfield is a millionaire who started his own business and is married to supermodel Amanda Marcum. The networks showed her constantly during the Eagles’ upsets over #2 Georgetown and #7 San Diego St last weekend. Strangely they didn’t show the wives of John Thompson III and Steve Fisher at all during the games. Florida and Florida Gulf Coast have only played one time in history. The Gators won 94-60 in Gainesville in 2008.

The 28-7 Florida Gators won the SEC regular season title with a 14-4 record. However, the Gators were upset by Ole Miss 66-63 in the SEC Championship game. The Gators were given the #3 seed in the South Region. In the second round Florida handled #14 seed Northwestern St 79-47. Florida then beat #11 Minnesota 78-64 in the third round Sunday in Austin, Texas. The Gators return to Texas to take on FGCU in Arlington Friday night. The winner will face either #1 Kansas or #4 Michigan in the regional final for a trip to the Final Four.

Florida Gulf Coast is 26-10 and finished second in the Atlantic Sun with a 13-5 record, a game behind Mercer. The Eagles beat Mercer 88-75 in the Atlantic Sun Championship game. Florida Gulf Coast has won 7 straight games. The Eagles became the seventh #15 seed to beat a #2 seed when they upset Georgetown 78-68 in the second round. FGCU then beat #7 San Diego St  in the third round 81-71 Sunday.

Florida is coached by Billy Donovan. Florida has losses at Arizona, Kansas St in Kansas City, at Arkansas, at Missouri, at Tennessee, and at Kentucky. The Gators have wins over Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee, Central Florida, Marquette, at Florida St, Air Force in Miami, at Yale, Georgia twice, LSU twice, at Texas A&M, Missouri, Mississippi St twice, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Kentucky, at Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama twice, and Vanderbilt. The Gators are 18-14 ATS and the total is 12-17.

Florida is outscoring teams 72-54 this season. The Gators are #3 in points allowed nationally. The Gators are shooting 48.3% from the field and 38.3% from 3 point range. The Gators are #21 or better nationally in both categories. Florida makes 68% of their free throws. The Gators average 35 rebounds per game and give up 26.6 per game. Florida is #14 in rebounds allowed. Gator opponents are shooting 37.8% from the field and 30.2% from 3 point range. The Gators are #5 in field goal defense and #27 in three point defense. Florida averages 15 assists, 7 steals, 3 blocks and 11 turnovers.

Forward-center Erik Murphy averages 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Guard Kenny Boynton averages 12.1 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Guard Mike Rosario averages 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Center Patric Young averages 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Guard Scottie Wilbekin averages 9.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Casey Prather, Michael Frazier II, and Will Yeguete all score around 6 points a game.

Florida Gulf Coast is coached by Andy Enfield. The Eagles played a very tough non-conference schedule. FGCU has losses at VCU, at Duke, at St. John’s, at Iowa St, at Maine, at Mercer, at East Tennessee St, Lipscomb twice, and at Stetson. The Eagles beat Miami (FL) 63-51 in the second game of the season. FGCU also has wins over Toledo, Loyola-(MD), and Florida International. Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast were the only teams above .500 in the Atlantic Sun. The Eagles did beat Mercer twice, including on the Bears’ home floor in the championship game. FGCU is 6-0 ATS and and the total is 4-2 in the few board games for the Eagles.

Florida Gulf Coast is outscoring teams 74-67 this season. The Eagles are shooting 46.2% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. FGCU makes 67.7% of their free throws. The Eagles average 36.5 rebounds a game, and give up 31.9. FGCU opponents are shooting 40.7% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. The Eagles average 14 assists, 9 steals, 4 blocks and 15 turnovers.

Guard Sherwood Brown averages 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Bernard Thompson averages 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.8 steals per game. Forward Chase Fieler  averages 12.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, a steal, and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Brett Comer averages 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals a game. Forward Eric McKnight averages 6.6 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Christophe Varidel averages 6.1 points per game. Filip Cvjeticanin, Eddie Murray, and Dajuan Graf also get significant minutes.

FGCU is 9-0 ATS in neutral site games, 8-0 after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records, 7-0 after a cover, 4-0 in Friday games, and in non-conference games, and 13-3 overall.

Florida is 18-5 ATS in NCAA tournament games, 14-6 after a cover, 11-5-1 in non-conference games, 3-7 against teams with winning records, and 2-5 after a straight up win.

Florida Gulf Coast has had a great run but they could struggle against Florida’s stifling defense. However, the Eagles are playing with house money and have nothing to lose. All the pressure is on Florida because FGCU isn’t supposed to be here anyway. I give the Eagles a fighting chance of pulling off the massive upset.

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