The Sweet 16 has a number of great games. However, none will be as evenly matched as the No. 3 Seed Marquette Golden Eagles take on the No. 7 Seed Florida Gators.
These two teams stormed through their first two games, winning both games by large margins. Marquette blew through BYU, defeating them 88-68, and then Murray State 62-53. Florida has not been tested yet in this tournament, destroying Virginia 71-45 and then blowing out Norfolk State 84-50.
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
When: Thursday, March 22, 2012 10:17 PM ET
Listen: Marquette: 540AM ESPN Florida: 760AM WEFL
Betting Line: According to 5Dimes, Marquette is a 1.5-point favorite. The line is extremely hard to pick, since both teams are very good. This game is the epitome of a “toss up.” You should take Marquette to hold on to cover this game and move onto the Elite Eight.
Key Injuries (from USA Today)
Florida: Will Yeguete is out for the season with a fractured foot.
Marquette: Chris Otule is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
What's at Stake
The winner of this game will move onto the Elite Eight, while the loser will see their season come to an end.
What They're Saying
Marquette: (From the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)
The opponent has to have game plans for the two styles that the Golden Eagles play, depending on whether the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Gardner is in the game.
The opponent also has to try to anticipate when Gardner will be in the game and how much he will play.
The coaches of Marquette's last two opponents in the NCAA Tournament said it was not all that easy to get a handle on the Golden Eagles' style of play.
Florida (From the Florida Times Union)
So, can Florida handle Marquette’s toughness?
“I believe we can,” said Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal, who is averaging 14.6 points a game this season. “I believe we can play with a tremendous amount of confidence. We don’t back down from anybody. Just because they’re tough, we’re going to come out and play and compete hard.”
Most Important Player to Watch: Marquette senior Jae Crowder
Crowder poses a problem to Florida since he is such a force to deal with on the glass and in the paint. He’s dominated Marquette’s first opponents in their opening games, going off against BYU for 16 rebounds and 25 points, and then having just as good of a game against Murray State, grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring 17 points.
If he can continue his streak of double-double games it will be a big reason why Marquette goes onto the Elite Eight.
Key Matchup: Florida’s Defense vs. Crowder
Florida had a good defense this year, holding opponents to only 66 points per game. In 19 of their 25 wins this year, the Gators held opposing teams to 65 points or under, while holding both of their NCAA tournament foes to 50 points or less.
Florida will have to find a way to limit Crowder’s effectiveness if they want to move onto the Elite Eight.
This is a very tight game to call, but, in the end Crowder will lead Marquette past Florida.
He will finish with a final stat line of 24 points and 14 rebounds with the Golden Eagles looking very strong heading into their Elite Eight game against the winner of Michigan State vs. Louisville.
Marquette 64 - Florida 60