(7) FLORIDA vs. (4) LOUISVILLE
I’m going to skip over the teacher-pupil storyline going on between Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan. I’ll post some links at the bottom of this post for all your Gators basketball reading needs.
Louisville is one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Cardinals rank No. 1 in defensive efficiency and play a type of 2-3 zone that can sort of morph into a man defense.
Look, I’m not gonna pretend to know how that works, but Jay Bilas and other people said it, and all I have to do is look at the numbers. Louisville held one-seeded Michigan State to 44 points Thursday, the lowest scoring total by a one-seed in the shot clock era.
Louisville has a terrific shot blocker, rim protector in 7-foot Gorgui Dieng, who had seven blocks versus Michigan State. So Patric Young will have his work cut out for him on under the basket.
On offense, Louisville doesn’t have a huge scoring threat. It’s usually a group effort with them, and they’re not going to shoot the lights out. Chane Behanan, who is coming off a 15-point effort against Michigan State, presents a matchup problem for Florida. At 6-foot-6, he’s taller than Brad Beal and a little quicker than Erik Murphy. Kyle Kuric and Russ Smith are the only Cardinals averaging double-digit points per game — 12.9 and 11.4, respectively.
Look for Florida to ride the hot hand of Brad Beal, who’s averaging 16.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament and will likely be guarded by Louisville’s 6-foot-4 guard/forward Kyle Kuric.
Florida will need to manufacture points to counter Louisville’s tough inside presence, but let’s be honest, it’s not like UF goes inside to Young on offense that often anyways. But points on the fast break, transition, offensive rebounds, whatever, will be key to beating Louisville.
You seriously think I would pick Louisville? How could I do that after Florida’s made it to the Elite Eight, largely unchallenged, without doing what they do best: shooting the three. How could I go against them now?
Florida rides the hot hand of Brad Beal, who DraftExpress has all the way up to No. 5 in its latest mock draft, and advance to the Final Four for the fourth time. Gators 75-68.
The game will be televised nationally on CBS at 4:30 Eastern.
GATORS BASKETBALL LINKS
Some good reads if you’re trying to kill time before the game.
“History favors ‘Ville; Gators ‘D’ impressive” (ESPN)
“Defense leads way as Gators reach Elite Eight” (Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo!)
“Donovan, Pitino meet again” (Eddie Pells, Associated Press)
“A Coaching Reunion That Neither One Wanted” (Greg Bishop, New York Times)
“Gators don’t want repeat of Butler” (Franz Beard, Gator Bait)
“Gators give Noah bragging rights on Butler” (Nick Friedell, ESPNChicago)