Virginia vs. Florida Free Pick 03/18/17 – March Madness Free Picks
By Bryan Power
Florida was a winner for me in their 1st round matchup with East Tennessee State. Though they covered as 9.5-pt favorites (won 80-65), it was by no means easy. It was a one-point game at halftime. Obviously, this will be a big step up in class here taking on 5-seed Virginia. The Hoos did not cover their 1st rd matchup, beating UNC Wilmington only 76-71 as 7.5-pt chalk. Both teams were actually faded by the public Thursday, but there can only be value on one here. I believe that team is Virginia here.
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, it seems as if people are pretty down on Virginia. The main bone of contention centers around an offense that – at times – will struggle. But in two of the last three games, they have scored at least 75 pts. They shot 50% from the floor against UNC Wilmington and scored 46 pts in the second half. Consider that they initially trailed by 15 in the first half, but had taken the lead by the break and never relinquished it.
Let’s also not forget that the Cavaliers are #1 in the nation in points allowed. Opponents average just 56.1 PPG against them for the year. It wasn’t too long ago that they held North Carolina to HALF their per game scoring average!
Something else to take note of is the fact that Florida is w/o it’s best player, John Egbunu. It didn’t hurt them against ETSU, but it will moving forward. Do not expect the Gators to hold the kind of advantage in transition points & points off turnovers they held against the Buccaneers.
If Virginia can turn this into a half-court game, and I think they certainly can, then it’s advantage them. UNCW’s top two scorers were 1 for 14 on contested jumpers Thursday. Note that UNC-Wilmington had just two points off turnovers over the game’s final 28 minutes.
This will certainly be a much different paced game for Florida compared to Rd 1.