Can Nevada Keep Record Setting Season Going Against Gators?
The fans at Wells Fargo Arena-IA will see the Florida Gators and the Nevada Wolf Pack when they take their seats on Thursday. The First round if the NCAA Tournament gets underway across the Nation. I don’t count the First Four games as part of the tournament. They are usually garbage teams that need to be in the Not Invited Tournament.
Nevada’s record-setting season has run over some speed bumps down the stretch. They have three losses in its last eight games. The Wolf Pack drew a seventh seed for the NCAA Tournament and tip off play, mainly because of their mediocre play.
Coach Eric Musselman’s, Mountain West Conference-co-champion, Nevada squad started 24-1 while matching the single-season program record for wins with 29. They are back in the Big Dance for the third straight season. Last season the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack rallied from double-digit deficits to beat Texas, 87-83. They then upended second-seeded Cincinnati, 75-73. They lost a 69-68 thriller to eventual regional champ Loyola Chicago in the South semifinals. It equaled Nevada’s 2003-04 squad for the program’s farthest advancement in their eight NCAA Tournament appearances. Florida also is making its third straight March Madness appearance after earning an at-large bid out of the SEC. The teams’ No. 10 seed matches its lowest in 22 appearances since the NCAA tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Florida has forced 503 turnovers this season, Nevada has only committed 338, the 17th fewest nationally.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Florida is 19-15 on the season, and frankly I can’t see how they sneaked into the tournament with teams with better resume’s on the outside looking in. Coach Mike White’s Gators have advanced to the Big Dance in three of his four seasons since taking over for Billy Donovan. Last week they beat Arkansas, 66-50, and top-seeded LSU, 76-73, in the SEC Tournament. They fell 65-62 to eventual-champion Auburn in the semis. Guards KeVaughn Allen (12 points per game), Noah Locke (9.6) and Jalen Hudson (9.0) are the leading scorers for the perimeter-oriented Gators. The squad averages 68.3 points per outing. Florida only allows 63.6 points per game, which is 21st nationally, and forces an average of 14.8 turnovers per contest. Florida has won at least one NCAA tourney game in its last six appearances.
Nevada was 29-4 during the regular season and frankly would have been seeded higher if not for the falter down the stretch. The Wolf Pack shared the Mountain West regular-season title with Utah State. Following a 77-69 quarterfinal win over Boise State, Nevada fell to fourth-seeded San Diego State 65-56 in the conference tourney semifinals. Forward Jordan Caroline averages 17.3 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds. Fellow Senior Caleb Martin, who averages 19.2 ppg, was an All-Mountain West first-team selection. He missed the game against the Aztecs with Achilles tendinitis. It has been a continuing issue for the 6′-7″ senior. The issue finally caused him to miss his first game of the season. Martin’s twin brother, Cody averages 11.7 points and a team-most 5.1 assists). Guard Jazz Johnson, at 11.2 ppg, also average double figures for the Wolf Pack. Nevada led the Mountain West in scoring at 81.6 points per game, scoring defense at 66.6, and turnover margin at 3.65 per game, during the regular season.
Prediction: Nevada Wolf Pack 76, Florida Gators 67
March Madness Betting Odds & Trends
Team record: 19-15 SU,16-18 ATS
Florida is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Florida is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Florida’s last 14 games
Nevada Wolf Pack:
Team record: 29-4 SU,18-14-1 ATS
Nevada is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games
Nevada is 21-4 SU in its last 25 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Nevada’s last 6 games
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