(10) Florida vs. (2) Michigan
Time: Saturday, 4:15 PM CST
Spread: MICH -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Florida Gators finished 19-15 and 8th place in the SEC while losing four of its final six games including a 62-65 loss to No. 22 Auburn in the SEC Semis.
Florida lost four of its final six games with three of those losses coming AP-ranked opponents, which it fared poorly against the entire season. Florida has a top defense that ranks No. 21 in holding opponents to just 63.6 points per game, though Florida is not particularly volatile itself offensively averaging just 68.3 per game and only 12.2 assists per contest.
The Gators are led by six players averaging better than eight points per game, but no one averages more than KeVaughn Allen’s 12 per contest. Allen also is No. 2 on the team in minutes (30.7), behind guard Andrew Newbhard who sees 32.5 per night in averaging 8.1 points and a team-high 5.3 assists. Newbhard has come up big recently for Florida as he had 20 points in the 76-73 win over LSU in the SEC Semifinals. He struggled against Auburn, but Florida is just 4-6 when he scores in double-figures anyway, which is probably not a big enough sample size to be representative of a meaningful trend.
The freshman had 19 points on 7 of 8 shooting in a 71-55 win over Vanderbilt on Feb. 27, and his shooting could be an unexpected spark if he gets hot in this game. It will take someone on Florida stepping up to keep pace with Nevada in this.
In its opening-round matchup, Florida defeated #7 Nevada 70-61. Four of the Gators’ five starters scored in double-figures and the Gators got 11 points from its three reserves. The Gators shot 45.3 percent from the field but hit just 5 of 18 from three (27 percent). Florida also was out rebounded by nine, and it turned the ball over 11 times (though the Gators did force Nevada into 14 turnovers). Florida will need Allen to be a little more aggressive. He attempted just seven field goals, and he missed four of his five triples. Johnson also really struggled in hitting just 3 of 14 from the field, but Florida had too much talent for Nevada in the long-run as the Gators led by nine at the half and simply maintained that lead despite several runs and a late push from the Wolf Pack.
The Michigan Wolverines obliterated #15 seeded Montana 74-55 in the first round to advance to face Florida in the Round of 32. Michigan went 29-6 this season with a 3rd place regular season finish in the Big Ten, posting a 15-5 mark in its conference. The Wolverines get it done with defense—it has the No. 2 defense in the country, holding opponents to just 58.3 points per game. Michigan averages a quite respectable 70.8 itself, and has an impressive win differential of positive-12.5. Michigan lost its season finale to Michigan State 60-65, but prior to that, it had won four of its previous five, with the lone loss in that another to the Spartans.
Ignas Brazdeikis leads the Wolverines in scoring at 15 points per game. Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews each average about 12 points per game, and Matthews gets five boards a game as a guard. Brazdeikis is a major three-point threat at 41 percent, and he attempted 134 on the season. Poole is a 37 percent three point shooter and took 191. Michigan takes the three at a 35.1 percent clip and attempted 757 on the season. The team also does a great job of taking care of the basketball, as it averaged just 8.9 turnovers per game this season. Michigan is 6.5 point favorites, and with the way that the Wolverines play defense it should be interesting to see if Allen and Johnson continue to struggle for the Gators.