NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Vanderbilt didn’t win either game, but the Commodores were impressive in both of their games with top ranked Kentucky in the past few weeks. Florida is coming off a disappointing loss to Georgia on the road. Florida has won four straight against Vanderbilt, including their eight point win at home earlier this month. These are two of the best teams in the SEC. Expect a great game here.
Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators suffered a major injury when they lost Will Yeguete for the season. Yeguete wasn’t a big scorer, but he was one of the team’s leading rebounders, and the front man in the team’s full court press. The Gators lack of depth in the post is a major problem. Patric Young is a very talented forward who does a nice job for this team, but they are left with few options for the second spot down low. Donovan actually has reserve 6’2 guard Casey Prather playing some minutes at the power forward spot in practice.
The clear strength of this team is its backcourt. Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker were both very good last year, and they have been excellent again this year. Bradley Beal is a freshman that plays with the poise of a veteran. Beal is great at getting to the rim, and he averages 6.5 rebounds despite the fact he is only 6’3. Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario gives this team another very talented guard. Florida averages 77.7 points per game, and they shoot 39.8% from three-point range.
Many expected Vanderbilt to give Kentucky a run for its money at home, but the Commodores gave the Wildcats a great game at Rupp Arena on Saturday. The challenge for this team will be to bring that best effort every single game from here on out. This is a team that has made an early NCAA Tournament exit the last two years, and they are looking to change that this season. The talent is definitely there for Vanderbilt to make a run in March, but they must be more consistent.
John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor are the stars for this Vanderbilt team. Jenkins is a pure shooter who can stroke it from outside. Jenkins leads the team in scoring at 20 points per game, and he shoots 85% from the free throw line. Taylor averages 17.3 points and six boards per game. He is great at using his size to get to the rim. Both Jenkins and Taylor are shooting a stunning 46% from beyond the arc. This is a much better team when Festus Ezeli is playing well. Ezeli averages 10.3 points and 5.4 boards per game from the center spot. The Commodores shoot 39.8% from three-point range.
Vanderbilt is a tough team to read, but I think they’ll be up for this one. Look for Ezeli to have a big game here. This one should be close the whole way.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 74 Florida 72
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