Florida is set to face the Nevada Wolf Pack Thursday at 6:50 PM. The game will be aired on TNT from Des Moines, Iowa.
With such an intriguing matchup, we decided to do a roundtable of predictions from local sports journalists.
Of all the NCAA Tournament’s first round matchups, No. 10-seed Florida vs. No. 7-seed Nevada is one of the more interesting ones on paper. Nevada’s lengthy starting line-up features five senior transfers, led by Jordan Caroline. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season, and he’ll surely be a handful for UF’s defense. Expect Nevada to switch often on defense, crash the boards and push the tempo on offense. The Gators will also have their hands full with Caleb and Cody Martin. The 6-foot-7 twins can do it all for Nevada — just ask senior Jalen Hudson. The Martins and Hudson burst onto the basketball scene together as AAU teammates on Richmond’s Team Loaded, with the three all becoming coveted prospects. While at Virginia Tech, Hudson competed against the Martins, who played their first two seasons in college at North Carolina State, four times, with the Hokies and Wolf Pack splitting the series 2-2. I’m eager to see the score settled Thursday. FLORIDA 66-62.
- Graham is a correspondent for the Gainesville Sun, follow him on Twitter @GrahamHall_
It’ll be a difficult one for Florida, one of their most difficult to date. Nevada is a team with a lot of experience considering it brought everyone back from that Sweet 16 run in 2018. Not only that but they have a lot of size. Nevada is the polar opposite team of a Florida squad that starts three freshmen and plays with one of the NCAA’s smaller lineups.
Florida has been playing it’s best basketball of the season. So I expect the Gators to be stay in it and be competitive as they have this season with teams they don’t necessarily match up well against. It’s the tournament so you never know but I’m not sure if Florida makes it’s out of the first round this time. NEVADA 70-65.
- Jake is a senior journalism student at UF who is a beat writer for WRUF – ESPN Gainesville. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Hitt06
Nevada will beat Florida because…
The Wolfpack has more experience, more size and more reliable scoring.
All of Nevada’s starters are seniors and 6-foot-7 or above. They each average 4.5 rebounds or more as well. Keyontae Johnson and Kevarrius Hayes are the only players on the UF roster that register rebounds at or above that clip.
Nevada also averages 80.7 points per game compared to 68.3 by Florida. It has four players averaging over 11 points per game, and guard Caleb Martin leads the Pack with a 19.2 average. KeVaughn is the only Gator to average double digits.
The UF defense will be the best the Wolf Pack has seen all season, so the game will be close. But Nevada’s offense is a little too potent, and it’ll emerge victorious. NEVADA 74-69.
- Mark is the sports editor at The Independent Florida Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr
Nevada and Florida will be an interesting match up, I actually believe Nevada may be the best 7 seed ever. Florida has their hands full with Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins, that trio will cause match up nightmares for the Gators. I’ll be looking to see what KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson show up in the tournament, but even at their best Nevada is still the better team this year. Wolf Pack Head Coach Eric Musselman will lead his team on another tournament run. NEVADA 75-64.
- Brandon is a contributor for ChompTalk.com that specializes in college basketball. Follow Brandon on Twitter: @GatorBuckman
This has been an interesting season for the Gators. You’re never quite sure which version of the team will take the court on a game to game basis. Yet despite their Jekkyl and Hyde nature, Mike White’s squad has fared pretty well when their backs are against the wall. If not for a terrible no call in the semi-final of the SEC tournament, they may have actually contended for an SEC Championship against all odds. I believe this team has gelled at just the right time and they are fortunate to have drawn Nevada in the opening round. Nevada is a dangerous team but it’s one that Florida matches well. If the Gators play their brand of defense and make good choices with their shot selection, they will win this game. San Diego State has already shown that this style of play can take Nevada down… twice. On top of that, Florida has history on their side. The ten seed has won better than 70% of their match-ups with seven seeds. I like the Gators to play the Cinderella role. FLORIDA 65-61.
- Michael is a beat writer for ChompTalk.com and has helped contribute to the basketball coverage on the site. Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeyPfeffer
#10-seeded teams have actually beaten #7-seeded teams 70% of the time over the last ten years in the NCAA Tournament.
Such an intriguing matchup. The job Eric Musselman has done at Nevada since taking over is incredible. He’s changed the entire landscape of Wolf Pack basketball. Musselman has done so by taking high impact transfers, which makes up the entirety of the Nevada starting lineup. Musselman, however, has also had recruiting successes along the way. In the last recruiting cycle, the staff was able to land 5-star PF Jordan Brown. Several Gators fans have actually mentioned Musselman when asked who they would want if Mike White was fired (on their suggestion, not mine).
Nevada uses an eight man rotation, but will rely on heavy minutes from their starters, all of whom average 26+. Jordan Caroline is the most underrated player on the team (and possibly the nation), but he missed the Pack’s last game with an injured foot. Caroline, however will be in the lineup and is a matchup nightmare for an undersized Gators squad. Caroline told the media on Wednesday that he is feeling, “fresh.”
The length of Nevada will be an issue, but so will stopping an offense that averages 80.7 points per game and only gives up 66.7. The Wolf Pack also only turn the ball over 10.2 times per game. The Gators must control the tempo and keep the clock moving. In three of Nevada’s four losses they scored less than 60 (58,57,56), in their wins the team averages 83.2 points per game.
I just don’t believe the Gators can play at the same pace over the course of an entire game. If Florida goes through one of their mid-game slumps, the Pack will pounce. It’s a fun matchup, but this is exactly what Caroline and the Martin twins came back to school for. I see Nevada getting by Florida and likely upsetting Michigan to advance to the Sweet 16. NEVADA 81-67.
What do you think the final score will be?