College Basketball Pick
Florida was playing its best basketball of the season, but just fell to Vanderbilt on Tuesday. The Gators recently reeled off a string off wins, one of which includeda 32-point beat down against Auburn this past weekend, the biggest margin of victory in the SEC since 2014. They are a hard-nosed team that can compete with most, but right now, don’t have that extra spark to beat better, ranked teams.
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West Virginia falls into that category, even if the Mountaineers had some recent struggles, losing at home to Texas last week and then barely taking down Texas Tech. While they have a Top 10 ranking, the Mountaineers still need a solid non-Conference win and this would be it. In their only Game against a relevant squad not in the Big 12, they fell by 16 points to Virginia.
This Game will be dictated by West Virginia, as most of their Games usually are. The Mountaineers force the most turnovers in the country and Bob Huggins usually goes at least nine deep on his roster. And playing against a press like this for the first time all year, it won’t be easy for Florida. The good news for the Gators is that they at least have some experience to deal with all that pressure.
Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza run the show for the most part and both are pretty good with the ball. But the main guy to watch out for is Dorian Finney-Smith who has picked up his Game a bit the last few weeks. He’s averaging 14.5 points and 8 boards per Game on the year, but has easily surpassed those numbers in recent Games. Stopping Finney-Smith from catching fire from deep and doing what he wants will be WVU’s first task.
Jonathan Holton will probably get the first crack at stopping Finney-Smith, but the Mountaineers have multiple athletic, tall guys with length that should be up for the matchup so Huggins may throw a few different players on him. While Holton and Devin Williams are key players for West Virginia in the paint, this is a team that will only go as far as its guards take them.
Jaysean Paige, Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles and Tarik Phillip all average at least 1.4 steals per Game and most of their Game comes off turnovers or driving to the hoop. They all struggle to shoot from deep, which could be the death of them, with West Virginia shooting only 31% from three as a team. Still, the way this team forces turnovers is usually all they need.
This will be a close Game that both teams would like to have, but it comes down to what Finney-Smith can do. He’ll have a tough matchup against a lengthy West Virginia team and if that affects him, the Mountaineers get the edge. Both of these teams want a solid non-Conference win and they’ll be fighting tooth-and-nail for this one.
Predicted ScoreFlorida 73 WVA 72