The No. 2 Florida Gators and the No. 3 BYU Cougars face off in the Sweet Sixteen, and the winner will be the favorite to represent the Southeast region in the Final Four. In the round of 32, the top seed in the region, the Pitt Panthers, were upset by the No. 8 Butler Bulldogs leaving the door open for the Gators and the Cougars.
The latest Sweet Sixteen odds for this matchup have the Florida Gators listed as 2.5 point favorites over the BYU Cougars. If the spread is any indication of how the game will turnout, another closely contested game filled with drama could be on tap.
After BYU removed Brandon Davies from the team for violation of the honor code, many experts believed BYU would struggle in the tournament.
The exact opposite has happened as BYU’s path to the Sweet Sixteen has been an easy one. The Cougars cruised in the first round with an easy victory and then followed that up with a dominating performance over Gonzaga.
As expected the Cougars were led on the floor by Jimmer Fredette. The nation’s leading scorer has a quick release and can sink baskets from anywhere on the floor. He never met a shot he hasn’t liked, and is one of the big names in this years tournament. Fredette posted 32-points in the opening game against Wofford and then contributed with another big day, scoring 34 against Gonzaga. Now the Cougars will face a single digit seed for the first time in the tournament when they go up against the Florida Gators.
The Gators quickly eliminated UC Santa Barbara in a tune up game in the first round, and then outlasted the UCLA Bruins to make the Sweet Sixteen. Now they will try to tame the Cougars and realize the first step in stopping BYU is slowing down Jimmer Fredette.
Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton will get the assignment of trying to guard Fredette. Boynton will have his hands full with the assignment, but that should be the only test for the Gators.
Florida has a serious height advantage in the front-court. 6'8" Noah Hartsock is BYU’s biggest player down-low, while the Gators boast a trio of talented towers to clean the boards. Alex Tyus checks in at 6'8", Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons are listed at 6'10" and that should be enough size for the Gators to control rebounds.
The Gators are led by Erving Walker at point guard who single-handedly took down UCLA in the waning seconds. He can score and distribute the ball evenly all over the court. His leadership has led to balanced offense as the Gators have four of their five starters that average in double digits.
Fredette will get his points, but the one-man-show will not be enough to beat the Gators. As long as Florida can stay out of foul trouble, it will be the end of the road for Jimmer and the Cougars.
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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