FLORIDA GATORS (1-0)
at WISCONSIN BADGERS (1-0)
Kohl Center - Madison, WI
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.
Line: Wisconsin -6
No. 20 Wisconsin plays host to No. 11 Florida on Tuesday night in a rematch of last yearís game in which the Gators won 74-56. However, both teams have a lot of different players from that team, as well as guys stepping into new roles.
The Badgers are coming off an 86-75 victory over St. John's on Friday due largely to the return of Josh Gasser. The point guard Gasser missed last season with a torn ACL, but showed no effects from the injury, scoring 19 points while also pulling down eight rebounds. Under head coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers have established the Kohl Center as one of the best home-court advantages in all of the country, losing only three non-conference home games in the past five seasons. Wisconsin is known to control the pace of the game on offense, while playing suffocating defense. Last season, the team allowed just 55.9 points per game, which ranked seventh in the country. That defense will be put to the test against Billy Donovan's Gators, who lost three double-digit scorers from last season, but are still a very talented team. In their season-opening victory over North Florida on Friday, SF Casey Prather exploded for 28 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore SG Michael Frazier II also contributed 19 points and nine boards off the bench. The Gators are without three of their perimeter players due to suspension, including starting PG Scottie Wilbekin (9.1 PPG, 5.0 APG last season). However, they do have the big guy down low in C Patric Young whose size and strength will be difficult for the Badgers to handle. His eight points and seven rebounds helped Florida dominate both shooting (62% FG to 36% FG) and rebounding (39-21 advantage) in last year's home blowout over Wisconsin. Two of the best coaches in the country will be involved in this game as well, and a key will be how Billy Donovan uses his athleticism advantage against a rugged Badgers team. Both coaches have favorable trends as Donovan is 32-16 ATS (67%) in November games at Florida, while Ryan is 19-6 ATS (76%) as a home favorite of 3.5 to 6 points as the Wisconsin head coach.
Which ranked team will prevail on Tuesday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The experts began the season with a 55% ATS mark (11-9-4) in college basketball Best Bets, led by StatFox Scott's 4-1 ATS record. StatFox Zach also started strong, going 3-1-1 ATS on his college hoops Best Bets.
While Florida C Patric Young does not put up huge numbers, (10.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG last season) he is absolutely relentless on the glass, wearing down his opponents with his constant effort. He is also a terrific shot blocker (2 blocks in 20 minutes on Friday), allowing the guards to be more aggressive on the perimeter because they know they have a rim protector down low. While Young is limited offensively, he does a terrific job of running the pick-and-roll, finishing well at the rim. But the Gators were outrebounded by North Florida on Friday, something that can't happen again if they are to pull off the upset here. They also need to knock down more outside jumpers after making just 2-of-10 threes on the night. Freshman PG Kasey Hill has been pushed into the starting lineup because of Scottie Wilbekinís suspension, but played very well in his collegiate debut with 15 points (5-of-9 FG, 5-of-6 FT), four assists and two steals. However, he will go up against a much tougher defense than in the first game, as well as a more talented point guard on the Badgers.
Two seasons ago, Gasser averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore, with major expectations going into last season. While he sat out the entire year due to a torn ACL, he has come back apparently be better than ever. He shot 45 percent from deep in 2011-12, and provides another shooter for a Badgers offense that hopes to improve its pedestrian 33% three-point shooting from a year ago. They sure got off to a great start in that department by knocking down 11-of-23 threes against St. John's. However, Wisconsin is far from a one-man show, as it has one of the top sophomores in the country in SF Sam Dekker. He is a versatile offensive player with great size (6-foot-7) and has the ability to score in many different ways, and he showed it on Friday with 16 points on 6-of-14 FG, 2-of-3 threes and 2-of-4 FT, while grabbing seven rebounds. Look for him to guard Prather often, which sets up an intriguing matchup. Dekker had a team-high-tying 11 points (4-for-8 FG) in just 20 minutes in last year's loss in Gainesville. Senior SG Ben Brust scored 15 points (3-of-8 threes) in Friday's win, but he struggled against Florida's defense last season with only six points on 2-of-9 shooting.