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Pittsburgh looks to knock off No. 1 Florida on Saturday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 3/22/2014  at  5:19:00 AM
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PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (26-9)

vs. FLORIDA GATORS (33-2)

NCAA Tournament - Round of 32
Amway Center - Orlando, FL
Tip-off: Saturday, 12:15 p.m. EST
Line: Florida -5, Total: 124

After No. 9 seed Pittsburgh earned a commanding victory in its NCAA Tournament opener, clobbering Colorado 77-48, the team will look to use those skills to challenge the No. 1 overall seed Florida in Saturday's Round of 32.

The Panthers are now 6-1-1 ATS in their past eight games, improving to 13-16-1 ATS after a slow start to the season. They are 6-2 SU (5-2-1 ATS) on neutral courts, going 13-1 SU and 4-6-1 ATS against non-conference opponents. Pittsburgh is also 10-2 ATS against teams forcing fewer than 14 turnovers per game this season. In Thursday's win, the team held the Buffaloes to 35.7% shooting while turning the ball over 14 fewer times (17 to 3). The Gators had a much less dominant win in their opening game, slowly getting past No. 16 seed Albany 67-55 while not coming close to covering a 22-point spread. With the ATS loss, Florida dropped to 15-14-2 ATS on the season and 2-3-1 ATS (6-0 SU) on neutral courts. However, the Gators are 64-39 ATS in all tournament games since 1997.

Can Pittsburgh score an upset over top-seeded Florida? 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 StatFox Experts opened the NCAA Tournament with a perfect 7-0 ATS mark in First Four games, making them a stellar 60% ATS (278-185-16) in college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 23-3-2 (89% ATS) since Feb. 6, 32-6-3 (84% ATS) since Jan. 17, and 74% ATS (57-20-3) since Nov. 26 to give him a robust 70% ATS (64-27-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 65% ATS (41-22-1) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 61% ATS (58-37-2) this season, while StatFox Scott is 70% ATS (14-6-2) since Feb. 16 and 59% ATS (54-38-4) for the season. StatFox Gary is 61% ATS (50-32) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 57% ATS (54-40-2) for the season, while StatFox Zach 64% ATS (7-4) since March 2.

Pittsburghís defense holds opponents to a mere 61.9 PPG (20th in Div. I) on 41.1% shooting, while outrebound them by a hefty +6.4 RPG margin. That helps the Panthers on the offensive end where they average 72.5 PPG (125th in Div. I) on 46.1% shooting (79th in nation) with an unselfish 15.6 APG (21st in Div. I). Senior SF Lamar Patterson (17.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.3 APG) is the teamís leading scorer, but continued his struggles from the field in the win against Colorado, as he is shooting only 37.8% FG in the past three games. PF Talib Zanna (13.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG) has been there to pick up the slack, shooting 70% FG in the teamís past five games, averaging 15.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG in that span. SG Cameron Wright (10.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.6 APG) and PG James Robinson (7.8 PPG, 4.1 APG) round out the backcourt, with Robinson dropping a team-high eight assists in the teamís win against the Buffaloes. While Patterson is a deft passer out of the forward position, Patterson has a stellar 4.1 Ast/TO ratio, and makes up for his lack of scoring prowess with his ball-handling ability.

While the Panthers have a good defense, the Gators have a great one, yielding only 57.9 PPG (3rd in Div. I) on 39.9% shooting. On the other end of the floor they arenít dominant with 71.0 PPG (181st in Div. I), but they do shoot a solid 46.3% FG (74th in Div. I). The key to their offense is SEC Player of the Year PG Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.6 SPG). The Gators havenít lost with Wilbekin on the court this season, as he was suspended for the teamís defeat to Wisconsin and injured his ankle with three minutes left of their one-point loss at Connecticut. F Casey Prather (14.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG) leads the team in scoring, dropping 16 points with three blocks and two steals against Albany. SG Michael Frazier II (12.6 PPG, 1.2 SPG) is a deadly outside shooter, knocking down 45.2% of his long-range attempts, and muscular C Patric Young (11.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG) rounds out the teamís double-digit scorers. Young and Wilbekin are two of many elite defenders on this team, which includes PF Dorian Finney-Smith (9.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG) and SF Will Yeguete (4.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG). Their athleticism and ability to suffocate opponents has been integral to Floridaís success this season, and will also be key in a surprisingly difficult Round-of-32 matchup.

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