#4 Florida vs. #8 Wisconsin
Storyline: Who is Bo Ryan? Who is Billy Donovan?
Billy Donovan and Bo Ryan will not be pacing the sidelines on Friday night, but their programs have continued to have big successes. Mike White and Greg Gard have done tremendous jobs using the momentum and culture in place to sustain success.
Wisconsin has some players left from their two Final Four runs, and everyone back from their Sweet 16 run last season. The Badgers are led by familiar faces Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes. Those three all have varying individual skill sets but they all fit together in the system. The team is pretty much “what you see is what you get”. The Badgers don’t have the greatest athletes but they are smart and play well together. Greg Gard’s team plays fundamental basketball and they control the pace to control each game as they did with wins over Virginia Tech and Villanova in the first weekend. With Florida’s big John Egbundu out for the year, Ethan Happ has a huge mismatch with whoever is guarding him. His shooting range is practically zero but his crafty moves gets him open looks against any defense. He should have no issues scoring against the Gators.
The Florida Gators were such a tough team for me to peg this season. The analytics have loved the Gators all year but they only beat one Top 25 team in the regular season. That was their home game against Kentucky (everyone gets up for that game). Senior guard Kasey Hill has pulled the Gators together and has them peaking at the right time. They beat East Tennessee State in the first round before crushing Virginia by 26 points. The key for Florida’s success in this game is going to be stopping Ethan Happ and not allowing Bronson Koenig to get open looks from deep. Happ is a load down low and Koenig will not miss open looks from deep. Those two players need to be the focus for the defensive oriented Gators.
This is a tough call to pick this game. I really do not know what to expect from this game, especially after what the Gators just did to Virginia. Both teams are coming off impressive wins. I am giving the edge to Wisconsin with Happ being the key player. Wisconsin can control the pace and force Florida to play their game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 75, Florida 73