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Date/Time: November 29, 9:00 pm EST
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Point Spread: Florida -9.5
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With the Big Ten/ACC Challenge out of the way, now the Big East and the ACC take center stage. Marquette and Florida met last year in the Sweet Sixteen, and the Gators came out with a 68-58 victory. Both teams have quite a few new faces, but both are expected to be high quality teams. Let’s take a look at this big early season matchup.
Marquette lost two stars from last year’s team in Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. The Golden Eagles still have quite a few players who have seen a lot of playing time, but none of them have been counted on the way they will be this year. Trent Lockett was a big pickup in the offseason. Lockett transferred in from Arizona State, and Buzz Williams expects him to lead this year. Lockett hasn’t been putting up big numbers so far, but he has great composure in big moments. Davante Gardner is a big man for Marquette who has stepped up his game in a big way this year. Gardner leads the team with 14 points and 6.5 boards per game.
The Golden Eagles are 5-1, but they are one very difficult shot away from being 6-0. Butler put in a tough three-point shot as time expired to beat Marquette earlier this month at Maui. Marquette responded by blasting Mississippi State and then taking care of USC as well. The Golden Eagles will get their toughest test of the year thus far in this matchup.
The Florida Gators don’t have Bradley Beal, their biggest star from last year, but they do have most of the rest of the team back. Kenny Boynton is a senior leader for the Gators backcourt. He leads the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin give the Gators two more play makers in the backcourt. In the frontcourt, Patric Young and Erik Murphy form a nice duo. Florida is averaging 72.2 points per game so far this year.
How have the Gators gotten to 6-0 this year? Florida has done it with terrific defense. The Gators are giving up only 48.4 points per game. To be fair, those numbers are skewed a bit since they played Savannah State and Alabama State already this year. Still, the half court defense has been far more active this year than it was last season. Florida has also dominated on the glass, and that is an area that should be watched in this one.
Marquette doesn’t have the play makers that they had a year ago, and I think that will show up in this game. The spread is too big for me to take Florida, so I think the best route here is the under. Look for the Gators defense to continue to play well.
Florida 71 Marquette 62
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