Last week, I wrote about Wofford’s chances to stay within the number against BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
After failing to win by nine points, BYU took on Gonzaga as about a one point favorite.
There wasn’t much value in that because all the Cougars had to do was win that second round game and they did in a big way.
Jimmer Fredette had a great game again and scored 21 points from behind the arc, as the Cougars pulled away for a decisive victory.
Can they do it again?
Virtually all of the games in this week’s Sweet Sixteen can go either way, but only one features a rematch—that’s Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators against BYU.
Billy Donovan was a gym rat growing up. He was one of those players who would find a basketball hoop anywhere he could and practice until he ran out of energy dodging puddles of his own sweat.
New Mexico coach Steve Alford was virtually the same.
After BYU forward Brandon Davies was suspended from the team, the Cougars had a date with New Mexico on their home floor.
Steve Alford figured out a way to go right at the Cougars without their leading rebounder, and the Lobos got a rare win in Provo and by 18 points.
Alford’s club couldn’t defeat BYU the second time around, but that’s mainly because Fredette had a career game, scoring 52 points, which is unlikely to be replicated in a month’s time.
San Diego State was then able to easily beat the Cougars in the conference tournament without Davies and TCU gave them all they could handle.
After Wofford lost a close game in Round 1 of the tournament and covered the spread, BYU exploded for 89 points on 14-of-28 shooting from three-point range and beat Gonzaga handily.
Fredette made half of those three-point shots and scored 34 points in the game.
Don’t expect Florida’s four seniors and junior standout Kenny Boynton to allow BYU to replicate that kind of success.
Billy Donovan’s teams play defense.
Only one team scored more than 76 regulation points on Florida this season and that was Ohio State.
Last season, BYU edged Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Gators had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Chandler Parsons missed a jump shot.
After another chance to win the game at the end of the first overtime was lost, BYU outlasted the Gators in the second overtime.
Who will win this game?
All five starters from last year’s game with BYU are back for the Gators and they are all a year older and more experienced. Guard Kenny Boynton has a sore ankle but is listed as probable for this game.
With Pittsburgh out of contention already, the door is open for the Gators to achieve the final four if they can expose the Cougars' defense and contain Fredette.
Fredette had a pair of great games through the first two rounds, but Florida’s defense will be one of the toughest he’s faced in what should be a fine rematch.
The Gators don’t have a super scorer like Jimmer Fredette, but when it comes to all five starters on the floor at one time, Florida is the better team and their chemistry seems to have grown stronger as the season progressed.
Fredette handed Donovan’s Gators a narrow defeat last March.
This season, look for Florida to get the best of BYU.