#4 Florida Gators vs. #13 East Tennessee State Buccaneers
Thursday, March 16, 2017 (3:10 PM ET, TruTV)
(24-8) 14-4 SEC
Player to Watch: KeVaughn Allen (13.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.4 APG)
Florida doesn’t have any projected lottery picks or star-studded players. Allen has been a consistent scorer this year while shooting 45% from the field and 40% from three. Florida needs Allen to be great in order to make a deep run in the tournament.
X-Factor: Give Allen some help
Eight Florida players average more than six points per game. While this may look good on paper as it seems they are very balanced on the offensive end, the Gators lack a secondary scorer to take the pressure off of Allen in multiple games this year. Canyon Barry, yes the kid who shoots his free throws underhand, is the next in line to pick up the scoring load for Florida and could be the difference maker in Florida’s success.
East Tennessee State Buccaneers
(27-7) 14-4 SoCon
Player to Watch: T.J Cromer (19.1 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.9 RPG)
A 6-foot-3 guard, Cromer is everything you want in a player. He can score, find the open man, play defense, and do all the little things that help his team win. Look for Florida to do all they can to slow Cromer down which is a very tall task for any team.
X-Factor: Take Care of the Basketball
ETSU struggles mightily at controlling the rock and it’s definitely their weakness on the offensive end. The Bucs are 307th in the country in offensive turnover percentage which does not bode well against a stingy Florida defense. The Gators are one of the best defensive teams in the country and if they force ETSU to make silly mistakes, then it could be a long game.
Matchup to Watch: Battle in the Paint
Neither team relies too much on their inside game. If the guard play for both of these teams struggles, the game could be one in the trenches and whoever dominates inside is most likely going to come out with a win.
Key Stat: ETSU’s O vs. Florida’s D
While the Bucs’ adjusted offensive efficiency rating is not very high, you wouldn’t know by the way they shoot the ball. ETSU is 44th in the nation in three-point shooting and 15th from inside the arc. To counter that, Florida is the fourth best defensive team according to KenPom which will give ETSU some difficulties on the offensive end.
Prediction: Florida 68, East Tennessee State 63
East Tennessee State is going to give Florida all they can happen. T.J Cromer is going to do everything he can to help his team pull off the upset but I think KeVaughn Allen and the Gators are going to be too much in the end.