Who: Florida Gators (25-10)
When: Tuesday, 9:00 PM
Where: O’Connell Activities Center
Our Nittany Lions, fresh off one of their best games of the season, get to travel to Gainesville thanks to the NIT not giving us a 1-seed. I’ll never understand why we weren’t deserving of that #1, but that’s just the way it goes.
The Gators beat Jacksonville (84-62) and Miami FL (74-60) at home in the first two rounds to get here. They’re actually 18-1 at home this season (their lone loss was to Tennessee), but they’ve only played 4 home games against top 75 competition (TN, South Carolina, Auburn, Miami FL). Also, they’ve only had 11,000 people combined come out the last two NIT games, so the O’Connell Center will probably be at half-capacity again (they are letting students in free through, so who knows). Regardless, I’m not putting too much stock into UF’s ‘home-court advantage’. We have won at Breslin and Assembly Hall, after all.
I haven’t seen the Gators play much this season. Sorry, SEC, but you were so craptastic this year (seriously, 0 sweet 16 teams?) that I did not care to even spend one second of my attention towards your league. All I know about this Florida team is Billy Donovan hated them last year. And that point guard Nick Calathes is pretty good. His brother Pat did some damage against us when he was at St. Joe’s. They’re a young team, but they’re very balanced and they certainly don’t have a problem scoring points. They have a solid 8-man rotation where only one guy plays over 30 minutes (Calathes – 33.3 MPG).
Here’s some interpretative analysis from looking at their statistical profile:
-What they do well
- Shoot the ball – 54.8% eFG% – 11th in the country
- Score points – 112.7 efficiency – 11th in the country
- Take care of the ball – 17.7 TO% – 27th in the country
- Steal the ball – 12% steal% – 38th in the country
- Make 3’s – 289 3PM – 15th in the country
-What they don’t do well
- Get to the foul line – 30.5 Free Throw Rate – 311st in the country
- Block shots – 4.7% Block% – 246th in the country
Actually, PSU and UF are very similar teams. Neither are particularly strong defensively, and both rely heavily on the 3 point line. Battle and Calathes have very similar numbers, although Calathes is 6’6″. His height is going to cause some problems for Battle and Pringle on defense. In fact, UF’s entire lineup is going to cause matchup problems. I don’t expect to see much, if any, zone from PSU given Florida’s 3-point ability. For the Gators, Alex Tyus is their main inside presence. He’s shooting a solid 59.3% from the field. Jones will be matched up against him, and he must keep Tyus from being productive. Otherwise, Florida could open up the whole game with some inside-outside action. Basically, Tyus is the only player in UF’s top-6 who won’t look to score from the outside. Werner and Parsons are both 6’8″+ forwards, but they’re 3 point threats. Neither of them shoot at a strong percentage but they’ve knocked down a combined 75 treys between them. Brooks and Jackson are going to have to respect their jump shot. Unfortunately, I can see Calathes driving all game, our entire team will collapse on him, and he’ll have a plethora of options on the perimeter to get the ball to. We’ll see if PSU is able to lock down the perimter.
I wish I knew how DeChellis wants to approach this game. Are we going to try and run with them a little bit or slow the game down? I think we’re treading dangerous waters if we try to push it. If this game gets into the 80s, I don’t think we have a chance. However, Florida isn’t a particularly strong rebounding team (50.2% rebounding percentage), so will we try to crash the boards or get back on D? Should be something to watch for.
EDIT: Cornley and Battle do plan on playing tomorrow. Cornley’s shoulder is at 90%, but one shot will ‘probably shelf him’. Battle apparently doesn’t have a hip problem, but a lower back problem. Whatever, he’s hurting.
PREDICTION: One game away from MSG. How badly does this team want it? I’d love to pick the Nittany Lions to win, but I believe UF just has too much firepower. I’ll take PSU to cover what I anticipate to be the 8-9 point spread. But I say Florida wins late, 81-76. Still, this is a great non-conference road game for our young squad. Maybe a game like this can convince DeChellis to finish up the 09-10 non-con with some road games?