Florida and Michigan will face off in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The game will tip-off at 5:15 PM (EST) from Des Moines, Iowa and will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
We had so much fun doing a roundtable with several local journalists for the Nevada game, that we have decided to do it again.
With any luck, we may have to do four more of these!
Graham Hall (1-0):
After holding Nevada well below its season average in points per game, Florida is in for a defensive battle in the Round of 32. The Gators will have their hands full with senior Charles Matthews, who registered his seventh career double-double in Michigan’s 19-point win over Montana. The Wolverines will give Florida fits on the glass, and UF will once again need senior Kevarrius Hayes and freshman Keyontae Johnson to play at a high level in the frontcourt. The Gators struggled in the second half before making key defensive adjustments against Nevada, and the pressure will be on Mike White, now in his fourth season at Florida, to adjust to and out-strategize Wolverines coach John Beilein. If the Gators hope to reach the Sweet Sixteen, they’ll need to crash the offensive glass, capitalize on second chance opportunities and convert shots from beyond the arc. In the always-unpredictable NCAA Tournament, one thing’s for certain: Florida has 40 difficult minutes ahead. Florida 59-55
- Graham is a correspondent for the Gainesville Sun, follow him on Twitter: @GrahamHall_
Jake Hitt (0-1):
I know I was wrong on Thursday
Nevada was good, Michigan is better. The road for Florida doesn’t get easier against the 2-seed Wolverines. Yes, Mo Wagner is gone, but freshman Iggy Brazdeikis came in this year to lead his team in scoring. And players like Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole are back from that national title game run in 2018.
Michigan outpaces Florida in experience and boasts an elite defense. Both of those could make things go from bad to worse if Florida gets into one of its patented scoring droughts. The Gators have a defense of their own and thrive off turnovers. Michigan leads the NCAA in turnovers per game at 9 while Florida is 41st in TOs forced with over 15 per game.
Mike White’s zone might be able to confuse Michigan for awhile. But his offense will need to be its best to date to keep up with Michigan. Also, Florida and Michigan rely on a small rotation of players for major minutes but John Beilein has more of a bench to call on. Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen will both need to be on top of their game and Florida must stay out of foul trouble. The Gators will hang around, but Michigan will come out on top. Michigan 75-65
- Jake is a senior journalism student at UF who is a beat writer for WRUF – ESPN Gainesville. Follow him on Twitter: @Jake_Hitt06
Mark Stine (0-1):
Michigan will win because…
The Gators slow down the pace of a game and get stops on the defensive end, but Michigan, is elite at those tactics.
The Wolverines are second in scoring defense (58.6 points per game) and fifth in three-point defense (28.9 percent). They do this all while averaging 14.1 fouls per game, which is hardly enough to put the opposition in the bonus in each half.
Michigan takes care of the ball on the offensive end as well. It averages only 8.8 turnovers per game, the best rate in the country.
Florida averages nearly 12 turnovers per game and commits 17.1 fouls per game. It will need to avoid giving the Wolverines extra possessions while matching Michigan’s physical play.
I don’t think the Gators will play a flawless enough game to get them through. Michigan 66-59
- Mark is the sports editor at The Independent Florida Alligator. Follow him on Twitter: @mstinejr
Brandon Buckman (0-1):
Florida and Michigan is a dream matchup for the defensive junkies out there! Wolverine Assistant Coach Luke Yaklich is a defensive mastermind, and many believe he will be a head coach by the summer. Michigan is a team good enough for a repeat Final Four, but the Gators are beyond capable of another upset. Both teams are elite defensively and have similarities offensively. I’m really looking to see what Florida does to slow down Big Ten Freshman of the Year Iggy Brazdeikis (15 points and 5 rebounds per game). Florida 58-57
- Brandon is a contributor for ChompTalk.com that specializes in college basketball. Follow Brandon on Twitter: @GatorBuckman
Michael Pfeffer (1-0):
Florida was up to the task of busting the bracket versus Nevada but the competition will take a steep climb on Saturday. Michigan looked relatively unstoppable against an over matched Montana team and Charles Matthews has reemerged with his best performance since injuring his ankle in February. The Gators will need to slow down the tempo of this game just as they did on Thursday night. This will be a tall order and will require a nearly perfect game from the young Gators lineup. Michigan plays a similar style to Florida in that their offense is often surpassed by the exceptional play of their swarming defense. In the end, I feel that Michigan will just be too much for the Gators. Michigan 68-59
- Michael is a beat writer for ChompTalk.com and has helped contribute to the basketball coverage on the site. Follow Michael on Twitter: @MikeyPfeffer
Brian Fox (0-1):
Just like several others here, I was wrong about the Nevada game. That’s the beauty of sports and why sports gambling is so wildly popular. Any given day any team can win, and any team can lose.
Florida heads into their contest with Michigan as 6.5 point underdogs. What’s truly odd about this game is that Florida matches up much better against the Wolverines than they did Nevada, at least, on paper. But then again we are talking about this Gators team, which has defied logic almost all season.
Florida will need to force turnovers to get easy transition baskets, but that won’t be easy. Michigan only turns the ball over 8.9 times per game.
The Wolverines also have the experience of a National Championship game run of just a year ago. Michigan has a deeper bench than Florida, but is led by 6’7 F Ignas Brazdeikis who averages 15 and 5 in just under 30 minutes a contest.
While I truly believe this game is a toss up that could go literally any way, I’m going to go the route of superstition. I picked Nevada in the last game so I’ll take, Michigan 71-67.
- Brian is the founder of ChompTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @ChompTalkBrian
What do you think the final score will be?