Florida will look to make its third consecutive trip to the sweet 16 with a win over Minnesota. The gators have reached the elite eight four of the past seven seasons and seek to take the final step to the final four. The Golden Gophers are coached by former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. Billy Donovan is 10-14 versus Smith but win the last six before he left Lexington. Florida held its 24th opponent out of 34 under 60 points on Friday night. The only previous meeting between the two schools was in 1993 where the Golden Gophers beat the Gators in the NIT.
The Gators expect a physical contest that could be determined on the boards. UF had three guys with at least eight rebounds on Friday night and according to most of the players yesterday the guards are going to have to get involved as well. Florida has held 13 opponents under 50 points this season as well as 24 under 60 points. The Gators led the nation in scoring margin at 18.4ppg. Florida is now second in the country in scoring defense at 53.5ppg. These teams do have common opponents on the season as FSU lost to Minnesota and Florida while Wisconsin split with the Gophers and lost to the Gators.
The Gophers are making their third trip to the NCAA tournament under Tubby Smith. They finished the season 5-11 before drilling UCLA on Friday. The offense was clicking behind two guard Andre Hollins who had 28 points including five three pointers. Minnesota only averages five made three pointers per game on the season. Trevor Mbakwe is a double double force and if he can do that versus Florida’s bigs that would bode well for the Gophers.
This and That
-Minnesota is 6-5 versus top 25 teams this season.
-The Gophers shot 50% on Friday and are 8-0 in games this season when they hit the 50% mark.
-Florida is 13-0 when they shoot 50% from the field.
-Rebounding will be key for the Gators who are 21-1 when they out rebound an opponent.
-The Gophers rebounding margin is 7.8 which is greater than Florida’s 5.1.
-Keep an eye on the five minute mark of the game. The Gators are 0-4 when trailing with five minutes to go.
How they Match Up
Florida Category Minnesota
71.9 _____________________ Points Per Game ____________________ 68.9
53.5 ___________________Opp. Points Per Game __________________ 61.7
.481 ___________________ Field Goal Percentage __________________ .445
.377 _________________Opp. Field Goal Percentage ________________ .394
.379 _________________ 3-Pt. Field Goal Percentage ________________ .333
.297 _______________Opp. 3-Pt. Field Goal Percentage ______________ .333
8.4 _____________________ 3-Pts. Per Game _____________________5.3
5.0 ___________________Opp. 3-Pts. Per Game ___________________6.2
.678 __________________ Free Throw Percentage __________________ .683
+5.1 _____________________ Rebound Margin _____________________ +7.8
14.8 _____________________Assists Per Game ____________________ 14.9
11.0 ___________________ Turnovers Per Game ___________________ 13.7
14.1 ________________ Turnovers Forced Per Game ________________ 12.8
7.1 _____________________ Steals Per Game ______________________ 7.5
3.3 _____________________Blocks Per Game _____________________5.6
If the Gators are going to get the win it will start with defense and rebounding. They cannot afford lapses for long stretches in this game especially if Minnesota is shooting the ball as well as they did on Friday. Expect Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin to take Andre Hollins early to see if they can knock him off his game. Florida cannot settle for three pointers and forget the inside game. They need to work inside out and let the three pointers come in the flow of the game. When Florida has lost this season they were beaten in points in the paint. Keep an eye on points in the paint which include inside buckets, transition points and guard penetration. I think this will be a tough game for the Gators who are 0-6 in games decided by six points or less. But the experience and play of Erik Murphy should be enough to advance them to another sweet 16. My x factor for this game is Mike Rosario who got in the doghouse Friday night for not boxing out. I think if he has a big game offensively, Florida will win by double digits.