With the final set of “Third Round” games finishing up Sunday night, it’s time for the Sweet 16. As we do every year, we will have in-depth previews of each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchup this weekend.
In this post, we preview the West Region Sweet 16 matchup between Buzz Williams’ 3rd-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles and Billy Donovan’s 7th-seeded Florida Gators.
Marquette-Florida Sweet 16 Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #3 Marquette v #7 Florida in West Region
- Marquette-Florida Date: Thursday, 3/22
- Marquette-Florida Tip Time: TBA
- Marquette-Florida Location: Phoenix
- Marquette-Florida TV: TBA
- Marquette-Florida Announcers: TBA
- Marquette-Florida Point Spread: Marquette -2
- Tickets: West Regional Tickets in Phoenix
Marquette-Florida Analysis and Prediction
Second place teams from the Big East and SEC will face off on Thursday in Phoenix when Marquette and Florida meet with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. The Golden Eagles used an impressive late run to oust Murray State, with both Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom scoring 17 points to pace the team. On Sunday, Florida jumped all over Norfolk State early and never looked back in a 34-point win. Five Gators scored in double figures, led by Kenny Boynton with 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.
For Florida, the clear strength is its offense, which ranks third in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Gators shoot over 44 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, and they make over 38 percent from deep. They also shoot it well inside the arc and have one of the lowest turnover rates in the country. Because they shoot so many threes, their free throw rate is relatively low, so don’t expect many trips to the stripe.
Marquette’s defense is tough though, ranking in the Top 20 in adjusted efficiency. With the exception of a poor defensive rebounding percentage, the Golden Eagles have solid numbers in the other three factors on defense. They rank in the Top 65 against both two-and three-pointers, both of which will be key against the Gators. They also force turnovers at a high rate and don’t put their opponents on the line very often.
Offensive rebounding bears watching though, as the Golden Eagles rank outside of the Top 300 in defensive rebounding percentage. The Gators aren’t elite in that regard, but guys like Patric Young and Casey Prather boast high offensive rebounding percentages and could give Marquette trouble on the glass.
When Marquette has the ball, they would seem to have an advantage, as the Golden Eagles rank in the Top 30 in offensive efficiency while the Gators are outside of the Top 80 on defense. Interestingly enough though, the teams’ strengths match up relatively well. Marquette boasts a 41.3 free throw rate, which is just inside the Top 50, but the Gators rank just inside the Top 50 in limiting their opponents’ trips to the stripe. Something has to give there, as the ultra-aggressive Golden Eagles love to force the action.
The two teams are relatively even on the glass, and I wouldn’t expect many turnovers based on their respective rankings in that category. That leaves shooting, where Marquette makes 50.5 percent of their twos, while the Gators rank outside of the Top 125 in two-point defense. And even though Marquette doesn’t shoot it all that well from deep (33.9 percent), Florida has struggled to defend the perimeter as well. The Golden Eagles take a relatively low percentage of their shots from long range though, as they would much rather attack the basket, which has in turn led to their aforementioned free throw rate.
In terms of individual matchups, I will be intrigued to see how things line up in the backcourt. Florida has a number of talented guards, led by Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, and freshman Bradley Beal, but Marquette has strong backcourt play as well with Johnson-Odom, point guard Junior Cadougan, and freshman Todd Mayo, who has played well of late.
For me, the difference will be the play of Crowder and DJO for Marquette. Those two will be the toughest two players on the court, and I think the cumulative effect of the Golden Eagles’ aggressiveness will take its toll on Florida.
Predicted Winner: Marquette
Marquette Golden Eagles Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 25-7 (14-4 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 9-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Norfolk State (2), South Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Vanderbilt
- Player to Watch: Jae Crowder (6’6” F, Sr.) – 17.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 50.5 FG%
Marquette Bottoms Line:
Led by seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, the Golden Eagles finished alone in second place in the Big East. They rank in the Top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and with the exception of defensive rebounding percentage, Marquette is in the Top 100 in the four factors on both offense and defense. Buzz Williams’ team pushes the tempo and focuses on “paint touches,” and that aggressiveness helped them to post an impressive 41.5 free throw rate.
Johnson-Odom personifies Marquette’s toughness, and he leads the team with 18.5 points per game and knocks down nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. Crowder is undersized but plays much bigger than his 6-foot-6 frame. He is a true statsheet-stuffer who has the ability to carry the team if needed based on his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. Marquette has solid depth with five other players averaging at least 19.4 minutes and 6.5 points. Vander Blue has improved after a disappointing freshman year, and Junior Cadougan ranks in the Top 50 in assist rate, while guys like Todd Mayo and Jamil Wilson have also shown flashes this season.
Despite not having a lot of size inside, the Golden Eagles are as physical and tough as they come and won’t go down easily in the Big Dance.
Florida Gators Team Capsule
- Conference: SEC
- Record: 23-10 (10- 6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 4-6
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama (2), Florida State, Vanderbilt
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Kentucky (3), Ohio State, Syracuse, Vanderbilt
- Player to Watch: Bradley Beal (6’3” G, Fr.) – 14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.4 spg
Florida Bottoms Line:
The Gators started the season as a Final Four contender in the eyes of some analysts, but they struggled to beat quality teams throughout the season. Five Florida players score in double figures, led by Kenny Boynton with 16.3 points on 42.7 percent shooting from long range.
Freshman Bradley Beal has been solid as well, and in addition to his scoring ability, he does a nice job on the defensive glass. The team also has a veteran point guard in Erving Walker, who scores 12.1 points per game and leads the Gators in assists. On a guard-heavy roster, the big men don’t get many touches, but Erik Murphy and Patric Young both average at least 10 points, with Young shooting over 60 percent from the field and Murphy content to shoot from the perimeter. The late-season loss of forward Will Yeguette hurts their frontcourt depth as well, particularly because of his high rebounding rates.
In all, the Gators rank third in offensive efficiency, because they shoot 39.0 percent from deep and have a low turnover rate. However, their reliance on the three-point shot has come back to bite them in multiple games this season, because when they aren’t hitting from long range, Florida doesn’t really have a plan B. They also struggle on the defensive end, which could ultimately be their undoing in the tournament.
West Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads
|BYU def Iona 78-72||Tue, 3/14||9:05 ET||Dayton||Nantz-Kellogg-Kerr||truTV||BYU -2|
|1||#1 Michigan State def #16 LIU Brooklyn 89-67||Fri, 3/16||9:15 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||TBS||MSU -20|
|2||#9 Saint Louis def #8 Memphis 61-54||Fri, 3/16||6:50 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||TBS||MEM -3|
|3||#4 Louisville def #13 Davidson 69-62||Thu, 3/15||1:40 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||TBS||UL -7|
|4||#5 New Mexico def #12 Long Beach State 75-68||Thu, 3/15||3:05 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||TBS||UNM -4.5|
|5||#15 Norfolk St def #2 Missouri 86-84||Fri, 3/16||4:35 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||TNT||MIS -21.5|
|6||#7 Florida def #10 Virginia 71-45||Fri, 3/16||2:10 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||TNT||UF -3.5|
|7||#3 Marquette def #14 BYU 88-68||Thu, 3/15||2:35 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||CBS||TBA|
|8||#6 Murray State def #11 Colorado State 58-41||Thu, 3/15||12:15 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||CBS||MUR -3.5|
|9||#1 Michigan State def #9 Saint Louis 65-61||Sun, 3/18||2:45 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||CBS|
|10||#4 Louisville def #5 New Mexico 59-56||Sat, 3/17||9:40 ET||Portland||Anderson-Bonner||TBS||LOU -1.5|
|11||#7 Florida def #15 Norfolk State||Sun, 3/18||6:10 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||TNT||UF -14|
|12||#3 Marquette def #6 Murray State 62-53||Sat, 3/17||5:15 ET||Louisville||Lundquist-Raftery||CBS||MARQ -5|
|13||#1 Michigan State v #4 Louisville||Thu, 3/22||Phoenix||MSU -5|
|14||#7 Florida v #3 Marquette||Thu, 3/22||Phoenix||MARQ -2|
|ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL|
|15||Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner||Sat, 3/24||Phoenix|