Florida vs Michigan: Power Ranking Gators' Most Crucial Players in Elite 8 Clash

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMarch 31, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators goes up against Sherwood Brown #25 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the second half during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The only thing that stands in the way of Florida and the Final Four is the best point guard in America, a hard-working, strong big man who has been impossible to stop in the tourney and a slew of other talented offensive weapons.

Gators, say hello to Michigan. 

If Billy Donovan and company want to avoid a third-straight Elite Eight loss, it's going to take a balanced, team effort.

Still, though, certain players are going to be especially important due to the unique, offensively-elite makeup of the Wolverines (fourth in America in points per possession, 116th in defensive PPP).

Let's take a look at the three most crucial individuals. 

3. Kenny Boynton

If the Kenny Boynton who shot 40.7 percent from deep and averaged nearly 16.0 points per game last season is ever going to show up, this would be the game for him to do it. 

The senior, who is shooting an anemic 39.1 percent from the floor this season, has seen his confidence completely disappear in the Big Dance, averaging 8.3 points.

But Michigan's perimeter defense, especially on the wings, often leaves something to be desired. That will open up an opportunity for the streaky guard.

Boynton has been a massive disappointment this year, but he is still an important senior leader who needs to step up and take advantage of a manageable matchup.

No one is asking him to come out and drop 20 points, but if Boynton—despite his recent struggles—is aggressive without forcing any unnecessary shots, it will be a major bonus for Florida's offensive attack.

2. Patric Young

Perhaps no player has exploded onto the scene more than Michigan freshman Mitch McGary.

In three wins, the big man is averaging 19.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and probably, like, 7.6 earth-shattering screens per game. He is big and strong, and he has out-positioned, out-worked and simply out-physicaled most of Michigan's opponents.

It's good a thing, then, for Florida, that the Gators have an absolute rock in the middle in Patric Young.

The 6'9" junior is made up of 249 pounds of pure muscle. He doesn't need to light up the box score or anything, but if he constantly has his body on McGary, there is little chance the up-and-coming Michigan star comes through with another crucial double-double for his team.

1. Scottie Wilbekin

While everything that has been mentioned is important, it's cockamamie compared to this matchup. 

Trey Burke is undoubtedly the engine that makes the Wolverines go. When he isn't pulling up for game-tying 30-foot daggers or beautiful step-back jumpers, he is penetrating into the teeth of the defense and setting up Michigan's slew of three-point shooters.

When Burke is free to run wild, the Wolverines' offense is impossible to stop. When he is unable to create, Michigan is significantly more stagnant and less explosive.

Enter Scottie (2 Hottie) Wilbekin. 

The 6'2" junior guard is one of the most underrated defenders in America. He doesn't have staggering size (176 pounds), but he is strong, physical and quick. 

If Florida is going to win this game, the SEC All-Defensive First Team member is going to have to lock up the best point guard in America for nearly 40 minutes. 

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