#8 Wisconsin Badgers (27-9; 17-16 ATS; 13-17 O/U) vs. #4 Florida Gators (26-8; 19-13 ATS; 14-18 O/U)
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Friday, March 24, 2017 at 10:00pm EST
Line: Florida -1.5
The Florida Gators will collide with the Wisconsin Badgers for a berth in the Elite Eight Friday night from Madison Square Garden in New York. The Badgers defeated Virginia Tech followed by a huge win over Villanova to reach the Sweet 16, and the Gators handled East Tennessee State and Virginia in their route to the Sweet 16. This will be the first meeting between these teams since 2013 with Wisconsin winning 59-53.
Badgers Stun Defending Champions in Second Round
The Wisconsin Badgers come into this one bursting with confidence after taking down the number one seeded Villanova Wildcats 65-62 in the second round. The Badgers were down seven points with five minutes remaining and proceeded to outscore Villanova 15-5 the rest of the way. Nigel Hayes was outstanding, sinking 19 points which included a clutch layup with 14 seconds left and also added eight rebounds. The senior forward has scored at least 14 points in four consecutive games which included 16 in the first round win, and is now averaging 13.8 along with 6.6 rebounds per game. Badgers top scorer Bronson Koenig also had big night, going 7 for 11 from the field for 17 points. The senior guard scored 21 points in the First Round win over the Hokies, and he has been a force, scoring 17 or more points in seven out of his last nine games, increasing his averaging to 14.5 points per game. The Badgers are playing spectacular defense and showed in the win over Virginia Tech they can step up offensively when needed. Wisconsin has won five out of their last six games overall, and are ranked 21st overall in Ken Pomeroy’s College Basketball Rankings.
Wisconsin is not a high-scoring team, averaging 72.1 points per game, ranking them 203rd overall, and are shooting 45.3% as a team. The Badgers win games behind their strong defense, allowing an average of only 61.8 points per game, good for 11th in the Country.
Gators Play Phenomenal Defense in Rout of Virginia
The Florida Gators played incredible defense in their dominant 65-39 win over fifth-seeded Virginia in the Second Round Win this past Saturday. The Gators shot 46%, and held the Cavaliers to an incredible 29.6% efficiency from the field. Devin Robinson was tremendous, sinking 14 points on a 5 for 8 mark from the field along with 11 rebounds. The junior forward was outstanding in the First Round as well, collecting 24 points and is now up to 11.4 points per game on the season. Gators leading scorer KeVaughn Allen struggled in the win over Virginia, going only 2 for 10 from the field for just four points. The sophomore guard also floundered in the First Round win, going an abysmal 1 for 11 from the field for seven points, and is now averaging 13.4 points per game. The Gators defense has been their greatest strength all season, especially defending the three, holding the opposition to just 30% shooting from beyond the arc. Their defense will need to be at it’s best going against arguably an even better defense in Wisconsin. Florida is 3-3 over their last six games overall, and are now ranked third in the Country in Ken Pomeroy’s College Basketball Rankings.
The Gators are scoring an average of 77.9 points per game, ranking them 68th overall, and are shooting 45.1% from the field. Florida plays very tough defense, conceding an average of 65.7 points per game, placing them 37th in the country.
The Wisconsin Badgers are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
- 7-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning percentage above .600.
The Florida Gators are:
- 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 Friday games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win.
I am taking Wisconsin in this matchup. Wisconsin just beat the defending champions and I can’t go against them with their strong defense. I know Florida just shut down Virginia however the Cavaliers had several duds offensively this season, while the Badgers took down the number one seed. Wisconsin features two seniors in Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig who both feature a great deal of NCAA Tournament experience and both are playing well offensively right now, so I would not feel comfortable going against them. Also, Gators leading scorer KeVaughn Allen is struggling right now, going 3 for 21 from the field in his last two games, giving me more reason to go with the Badgers in this matchup.
Pick: Wisconsin Badgers +2
Wisconsin just held Villanova to 62 points and Florida only allowed 39 points against Virginia, so this total is not too low. Wisconsin is holding opponents to 41% shooting and the under has been a common trend, as it has hit in 10 out of the Badgers last 11 games as an underdog, and five out of their last six NCAA Tournament games. The Gators defense is going against a Wisconsin team that does not score a lot of points, and the under is 5-1 in their last six games overall.