Sweet 16 2012 Predictions: Florida Gators vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles
Thursday, 3/22/12, 10:17 PM EST, TV:  TBS
Opening Point Spread:  Marquette -2
Current Betting Line:  Marquette -2
Opening Total:  146
Current Total:  148
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton will look to improve the program's record to 6-1 in Sweet 16 games

Florida has certainly been one of the more impressive teams in the 2012 NCAA tournament and has won its first two games by a combined 60 points.  The Gators earned an impressive 84-50 win over Norfolk State as 14-point favorites in the Round of 32.  “I’m proud of this group,” stated Gators head coach Billy Donovan.  The program is participating in the Big Dance for the 12th time under his direction, posting a 27-9 mark in tournament games.  Donovan comes into this matchup with a 5-1 record in Sweet 16 action.  Florida is 11-5 ATS in tournament games the last two-plus years and the “over” is 11-4 in that situation.

The Gators became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to score 70-plus points and allow 50 or fewer in their first two tournament games.  Florida is led by a balanced offensive attack that has all five starters averaging in double figures, with junior guard Kenny Boynton leading the way in scoring 16.1 points per game.  The entire group led the nation in hitting 9.8 three-point shots per game during the entire season.  Since the 2005-06 season, Florida has tallied a solid 7-3 mark versus Big East Conference opponents.

Marquette has covered both of its victories in this event heading into this contest, including a 62-53 win over the Murray State Racers as five-point favorite.  The Golden Eagles have gone “over” the total in seven of their last 10 games, as both teams in this matchup average over 75 points a game on the season.  The program is 38-30 all-time in the NCAA tournament and will lean heavily on Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder, who is averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds.  Marquette is 12-10 ATS when playing on a neutral floor the last two-plus campaigns.

The Golden Eagles have won both meetings with the Gators, but the last contest between these two games came on Dec. 10, 1977.  Marquette got after it on the defensive end in the first two games of the tournament, holding BYU and Murray State to just 34.4 percent shooting combined, including a 27.5 percent mark from beyond the arc.  Crowder has been dominating opponents over the last 10 games, averaging 21.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game.

Bettors will likely play the total due to the “over” being 8-2 in the Gators last 10 NCAA tournament games, while the Golden Eagles have gone “over” in eight of their last nien games as a favorite of 6.5 points or less.

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