2017 NCAA Tournament
East Regional Semifinals
#4 Florida Gators vs #8 Wisconsin Badgers
Friday, March 24, 2017, 9:59 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Opening Line: Florida -1 1/2
Current Line: Florida -1 1/2
Opening Total: 131 1/2
Current Total: 131 1/2
Opening Money Line: Florida -125 / Wisconsin +105
Current Money Line: Florida -123 / Wisconsin +103
The 27-9 Wisconsin Badgers were underseeded in the NCAA Tournament as a #8 seed. This was demonstrated by their upset of East #1 seed and defending national champion Villanova 65-62 last Saturday in Buffalo. Next up, the Badgers take on the 26-8 Florida Gators who are the #4 seed in the region Friday night in the Sweet 16 in New York City. The winner between Wisconsin and Florida will face either #3 Baylor or #7 South Carolina in the regional final Sunday. The series between Florida and Wisconsin is tied 2-2. The teams split a home and home series in 2012 ans 2013.
Wisconsin, coached by Greg Gard, tied for second in the Big Ten at 12-6 with Maryland. The Badgers lost to Michigan 71-56 in the Big Ten Championship game in Washington. Despite that Wisconsin was given only a #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin beat #9 seed Virginia Tech 84-74 in the first round before the upset over Villanova in the second round, both in Buffalo. Wisconsin in in the tournament for the 23rd time including every year since 1999. They are in the Sweet 16 for the tenth time overall including four straight.
Wisconsin had road losses at Creighton, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland and Michigan State, plus neutral site losses to North Carolina in Maui and Michigan in Washington. The Badgers have home losses to Northwestern and Iowa. Wisconsin has home wins over Syracuse, Oklahoma, Marquette, Green Bay, Rutgers, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, and Minnesota. The Badgers have road wins over Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska, plus neutral site wins over Tennessee and Georgetown in Maui, Rutgers in New York, plus Indiana and Northwestern in Washington. Wisconsin is 17-16 ATS and the total is 13-17-3 this season. The Badgers were 5.5 point underdogs against Villanova and the total was 132.5.
Florida is coached by Mike White. The Gators finished second in the SEC with a 14-4 record. Florida was upset by Vanderbilt 72-62 in overtime in the SEC quarterfinals in Nashville. Florida beat #13 seed East Tennessee State 80-65 in the first round and crushed #5 seed Virginia 66-39 in the second round Saturday, both in Orlando. Florida is in the tournament for the 20th time and in the Sweet 16 for the 11th time.
Florida is coached by Mike White. The Gators have neutral site losses to Gonzaga in Orlando, Duke in New York City and Vanderbilt in Nashville, road losses at Florida State, South Carolina Kentucky and Vanderbilt, plus a home loss to Vanderbilt. Florida has won three straight games all by at least 32 points. The Gators have neutral site wins over Seton Hall and Miami in Orlando, Belmont in Tampa, and Charlotte in Sunrise, FL. Florida has home wins over Little Rock, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Arkansas. The Gators have road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State. The Gators are 19-13 ATS and the total is 14-18 this season. Florida was a 2 point favorite against Virginia and the total was 126.
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Wisconsin is outscoring teams 72-62. The Badgers are #11 nationally in points allowed. Wisconsin is shooting 45.3% from the field including 35.8% from 3 point range. Wisconsin makes 64.3% of their free throws and is #336 nationally in the category. Opponents are shooting 41.1% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 37.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.8 per game. The Badgers are #16 nationally in rebounds allowed. Wisconsin averages 13.6 assists, 11 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 3.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.2 assists, 12.8 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 3 blocks per game.
Bronson Koenig averages 14.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Ethan Happ averages 13.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Nigel Hayes averages 13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Zak Showalter averages 8.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Three other players average at least 15 minutes a game.
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Florida is outscoring teams 78-66 this season. The Gators are #68 or better in both categories. The Gators are shooting 45.1% from the field and 36.1% from three point range. Florida makes 72.6% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.5% from the field and 30.4% from three point range. Florida is #26 or better in both categories nationally. The Gators average 37.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.7 per game. The Gators average 12.6 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 7.6 steals and 4.7 blocks. Opponents average 9.6 assists, 14.9 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.
KeVaughn Allen averages 13.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Canyon Barry averages 11.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Devin Robinson averages 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Kasey Hill averages 9.7 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. John Egbunu averages 7.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Four other players will get time in the rotation. Dontay Bassett is out for the season with a foot injury.
Wisconsin is 7-1-1 as an NCAA Tournament underdog, 7-1 in non-conference games, 5-1 against teams with winning records, and overall, 4-1 against NCAA Tournament teams, 12-3-1 as an NCAA Tournament underdog of less than 6.5 points, 4-1 in neutral site games, 6-2-1 as a neutral site underdog, 1-4 as an underdog, and as an underdog of less than 6.5 points.
Florida is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, 6-0 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 6-1 as a neutral site favorite, 13-3 as a favorite of less than 6.5 points, 11-3 as an NCAA tournament favorite of less than 6.5 points, 23-8 as a favorite, 20-9 as an NCAA favorite, 22-10 in NCAA Tournament games, 2-6 after allowing less than 50 points, 1-4 after a cover, and 0-3-1 in Friday games.
This will be a battle between Florida’s speed and Wisconsin’s hard nosed defense. The Gators don’t have much of a post presence without Egbunu and they could be in trouble against the Badgers. I like the Badgers to win a close game in a mild upset.