Florida vs. Louisville: Gators Will Continue Red-Hot Run to Final Four

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2012

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16:  Head coach Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators talks with Kenny Boynton #1 against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In the classic Elite Eight battle of mentor (Rick Pitino, Louisville) vs. pupil (Billy Donovan, Florida), the student will reign supreme. This is not because Donovan is a better coach than Pitino, but because he has the players better suited to win an NCAA Tournament game.  

Even better than being the right players, this game is being played at the right time for the Gators. In the NCAA Tournament, being hot at the right time is more important than being the best team throughout the season. The only proof you need of that is UConn a season ago. 

While Florida didn't win their conference tournament, they did have a close loss to the top team in the country in Kentucky, and are turning that in to a completely dominant run in the big dance.

When you consider that they didn't get the schedule that comes with being a high seed, no team has been as impressive as Florida throughout this run.

But the hot streak isn't the only factor here. After all, you can't exactly make the Elite Eight as a cold team. Still, Florida just has the better team. 

It starts with their balance, which makes the Gators one of the highest scoring teams in the country.

They have too many players on the roster that are capable of taking a game over, so defenders have no players that it really makes sense to key on. Focusing too much on one player leaves others, and Florida has the depth to make teams pay for that. 

Look at how this team's top players scored in the regular season. 

Player    PPG
Kenny Boynton    16.0   
Bradley Beal 14.8
Erving Walker 12.1
Erik Murphy  10.4
Patric Young 10.2

That is just too much scoring for Louisville to deal with, as the Cardinals don't have a player at over 13 points a game, which is needed. When the scoring is tough, there has to be a player to depend on, and Louisville lacks that. 

With Boynton, Beal and Walker, the Gators have the guard play that is always so important in the tournament. You need to be able to shoot from the outside, move the ball around and find the open man. The Gators can do every one of those things well. But it doesn't stop there.

With Murphy and Young, Florida also has the size to get the job done on the inside. They won't quite top the Cardinals in the paint, as they're one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Fortunately for Florida, they won't need to. 

All the Gators need to do down low is limit the Louisville dominance. Statistically, the Cardinals will be the better team down low, but they won't be as dominant as is needed to negate Florida's guard advantage, which will decide the game. 

The Gators will ultimately be too fast for Louisville to keep up with. It will be a good game, but Florida's depth at guard will enable them to dictate the pace without worrying about getting tired. That will be too much for the Cardinals to sustain for 40 minutes.

Prediction: Florida 77, Louisville 70