Pick with Analysis
In year’s past, this was a huge Game, easily the biggest of the SEC season. This year, while these teams don’t like each other, it’s not the same case with Florida falling to the unranked masses this season. Kentucky will look to extend its record to 23-0.
The Wildcats have had some tough Games, but there still isn’t any team in the country that has as good of roster from top to bottom, and that’s especially true in the SEC. The Conference is lacking to say the least with seven teams fighting behind Kentucky for second place. The Wildcats had a tough first couple Games in the SEC, going into overtime against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but they haven’t had a problem since, beating every opponent quite easily. When this team puts everything into the Game, no one can beat them and even if they have a bad night, the platoon helps them overcome those obstacles.
It’s been a rough season for Florida after starting in the Top 10. That ranking quickly disappeared after a 3-4 start and things haven’t gotten much better since. The Gators have been streaky in Conference play, starting with three straight wins, then three straight losses and now back on the winning side. They haven’t shown much advantage at home, winning their last contest by one point against Arkansas and losing by 18 to LSU before that.
For a Florida team that already struggles on the offensive side, it’s going to take a monumental effort for them to put up enough points against Kentucky.
Kentucky lost all three matchups last year, so this won’t be a Game they take lightly. Even though the Gators aren’t as good this year, there’s no doubt UK has not forgotten last season’s Games.
The question out of the gates is if Florida can deal with the size of Kentucky. The Gators aren’t a good rebounding team so that doesn’t help and their bigs are probably the weakest part of the team, not counting Dorian Finney-Smith. Guys like Jon Horford are going to have tons of problems with Kentucky. They have a deep team, so foul trouble likely won’t be an issue, but where will their points, and defense, come from down low?
Florida doesn’t shoot the ball all that well with Finney-Smith and Michael Fraizer II being the only players that average more than eight points per Game. Both have gone from role players to must-be leading scorers in a year and the transition hasn’t been great.
As for Kentucky, they have five players that average eight points per Game and a couple more at 7.5 ppg. Every night, it’s someone different stepping in and making a difference. Aaron and Andrew Harrison bring size and more experience to the backcOurt, while Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis are just as lethal off the bench. Then there’s bigs in Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns with Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee as substitutes.
For a team that is already struggling on the offensive end, a matchup with one of the best defenses in the nation is not a recipe for success. The Gators will need to find ways to Scoreoutside of their top two guys and they have to hold their own in the paint.
Gainesville will be pumped and ready for this matchup, but it’s hard to see how Florida can find a way to win, especially if Kentucky comes in with a chip on their shoulder after last year’s losses.
Our Prediction – Kentucky by 14