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College Basketball Pick
Florida is one of the hottest teams in the nation and looking like a legitimate top-10 team. The Gators had success early in the season, but not many thought it was real as they lost all of their difficult games against Gonzaga, Duke and Florida State. But looking at it now, losing to those teams, all by close margins, isn't so bad after all. The Gators had one minor rough patch in SEC play, but now look to have a real chance of winning the regular season title winning their last seven games.
It's been close to the opposite for Mississippi State, which may struggle to get into any postseason tournament at this point. The Bulldogs have won just two of their last nine games and are near the bottom of the standings in the conference. That said, this team has continued to at least compete in all of their losses, most notably at home. In that stretch, they lost at home by four to South Carolina and by seven to Kentucky with wins over Missouri and Tennessee. Florida is playing well, but it can't be argued that Mississippi State is keeping these games close.
But will that be the case against this Florida team that is dominating opposition? In its current winning streak, all of Florida's wins have come by at least nine points with five of them coming by at least 19. Maybe most impressive was the recent 114-point outing this past Tuesday at Auburn. Sure, a lot of those points had to do with the ridiculous amount of fouls called (52), but the Gators are still playing at a high level.
The problem for MSU in this game is that its defense is nothing special. The Bulldogs rank in the bottom half of most defensive stats and the same can be said for the offense. That's going to be an extreme problem against a Florida team that has above average numbers on both ends of the court. However, there is one area of concern for the Gators as big man John Egbunu tore his ACL on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season. While they have guys that can step into that spot like Kevarrius Hayes and Schuyler Rimmer, it won't be easy as Egbunu has played big minutes this season. Florida is a good rebounding team, but the loss of Egbunu will definitely hurt that, although maybe not against this Mississippi State team.
The Bulldogs would like to capitalize on the absence of Egbunu, but they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the SEC. Trying to attack down low isn't their strong suit either as Schnider Herard is a minor part of the offense. The one way Mississippi State competes is through the three-ball as they take a ton. All three of MSU's leading scorers Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Mario Kegler take a good portion of threes. If those don't fall, Florida should be in line for another win.
The Gators may not have the most skilled guys, but they play great as a team and have tons of depth. They have a trio of guards in Chris Chiozza, Kasey Hill and KeVaughn Allen that are rarely matched, especially in the SEC. Then there's still two of their best scorers in Canyon Barry and Devin Robinson, with Justin Leon doing all of the things that get unnoticed. Even without Egbunu, Florida should be fine in this game. The Bulldogs will compete, but the only chance they have of winning is hitting an above average percentage of threes and that's not a great thing to bet on.
Our pick - Florida by 22
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