NCAA Bracket 2012: Norfolk State Spartans vs. Florida Gators

No. 15 Norfolk State Spartans vs. No. 7 Florida Gators
Sunday, 3/18/12, 6:10 PM EST, TV:  TNT
Opening Point Spread:  Florida -15
Current Betting Line:  Florida -14.5
Opening Total:  141
Current Total:  143.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Florida Gators have never lost to a school from the MEAC

Norfolk State shocked the world in picking up an 86-84 win over the Missouri Tigers as 21-point underdogs on Friday in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.  “When you’ve made history and continue to try to make history, it’s kind of hard to refocus,” stated Spartans star Kyle O’Quinn.  “We don’t want it to end.”  The Spartans grabbed their first-ever win over a ranked opponent in pulling off the tournament’s biggest upset so far.  Norfolk State is 8-4 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus years and the “under” is 5-6 in that situation.

The Spartans have three starters that average double figures in scoring, with O’Quinn leading the way in scoring 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.  Norfolk State had three players score 20-plus points, while all 86 points were scored by starters.  It’s important to note that a 15th seed has never reached the Sweet 16 and this program is just 0-1 all-time against Southeastern Conference schools.

Florida is appearing in its 15th NCAA Tournament and has registered a 30-12 all-time mark in the event, including a convincing 71-45 win over the Virginia Cavaliers as 2.5-point favorites two days ago.  The Gators certainly know that they must maintain their focus in facing an upset-minded opponent on Sunday.  “Everyone loves the Cinderella story, underdog stories,” commented Gators center Patric Young.  The program is 6-3 all-time in the round of 32 games and has tallied a perfect 22-0 all-time mark against current MEAC teams, including a 20-0 record under head coach Billy Donovan.  Florida is 11-7 ATS in March the last two-plus years.

The Gators are extremely balanced on the offensive end, with all five starters averaging in double figures, with junior guard Kenny Boynton leading the way in averaging 16.0 points.  Florida is the nation’s top 3-point scoring team, hitting 9.8 shots per game from beyond the arc.  The program finished the regular season second in the SEC and 26th nationally in averaging 76.1 points per game.  Boynton ended up being the third-leading scorer in the SEC and had 12 games of 20 points or more.

Bettors will likely back the Gators due to their 13-3 ATS mark in NCAA Tournament games as a favorite, while the Spartans are 2-3 ATS after allowing 80 or more points.

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