After a wild first round victory over #7-seeded Nevada, the Gators will look to upset #2-seed Michigan.
While the two teams are nearly mirror images of each other, we are going to break down keys to the matchup and what Florida must do to put itself in positon to win.
The Match Up:
This will be an incredible defensive showdown as both Michigan and Florida sport two of the best defenses in the nation. The Wolverines and Gators are ranked 3rd and 42nd, respectively, in Division-I defensive efficiency rating. Last season’s national runner up Michigan only lost two key players, including Los Angeles Lakers center Mo Wagner, but the arrival of Iggy Brazdeikis, a freshman averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds a game, more than makes up for what UM lost a season ago.
On the other side of the timeline, the Gators are coming off a huge win over Nevada. The Gators put it on the Wolf Pack late in the opening half to push the lead to double digits before the break. Yes, Florida did have a late collapse, but a clutch and-1 dunk from Dontay Bassett was the icing on the cake for Gator Nation. On Thursday, Florida had four players in double figures, which was a major reason for their win, as only one Gator averages double figures (KeVaughn Allen).
Key to win:
Florida’s key to win is simple, although much easier said than done: they must slow the game down. Slowing the game down will keep Florida calm. When Nevada put pressure on late in the second half, the Gators collapsed and Mike White had trouble finding a ball handler who remained calm and collected.
Another reason to keep the game slow is to keep the score low. Despite Michigan relying on heavy minutes from 6 players, they actually have a much deeper and talented bench than the Gators do. Limiting fouls, limiting turnovers, and defending the three are three main areas of focus for Mike White if he is going to pull off another upset.
Defensively, the two teams are elite, however, offensively they are fairly even in terms of points per game. Experience is Michigan’s biggest advantage, but Florida has all the tools and pieces to pull this one out.
Florida and Michigan will tip-off at 5:15 PM from Des Moines, Iowa. The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS.