BYU and Florida, who meet in the Sweet 16 tomorrow night, are absolutely no strangers to each other. Just last year they played a memorable first-round game that marked the first nationwide exposure of Jimmer Fredette (speaking of…click here to see a remarkable image of Jimmer), who scored 37 in BYU’s double-overtime win. The game marked BYU’s first tourney win since 1993 while Florida was appearing in the dance for the first time since their consecutive national titles in 2006-07.
Twelve months and one week later, the stakes and aspirations of each squad are much higher with just two wins separating each school from the Final Four and #1 seed Pittsburgh already eliminated. The oddsmakers currently have Florida as a three point pick, and they have the slight advantage of playing in the middle of SEC country. Can Jimmer and the Cougars overcome the odds to advance?
Sweet 16: Florida v BYU Game Info
- WHO: #3 seeded BYU Cougars v. #2 Florida Gators
- WHAT: NCAA Southeast Regional Semi-Final
- WHERE: New Orelans Arena, New Orleans, LA
- WHEN: 7:27 PM Eastern Time, Thursday, March 24
- TELEVISION: TBS
- ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Marty Snider (sideline)
- POINT SPREAD: Florida -3
- OVER-UNDER: 149
Thursday in particular is going to be a dream day in the NCAA tournament, with the Southeast double-header also featuring the incredibly intriguing Butler v. Wisconsin pairing. Meanwhile the West Region in Anaheim has #2 seeded San Diego State v. #3 UCONN along with top-seeded Duke against Derrick Williams and fifth-seeded Arizona.
The biggest storyline in this game, besides Jimmer Fredette himself, will be the man who is supposed to guard Jimmer. Late in Saturday’s Round of 32 game, Florida’s Kenny Boynton turned an ankle, tried to return to the game, only to be removed after being beaten for a basket. Florida is saying that Boynton is fully expecting to play, and he has not been on crutches or walking with a boot. That said, sprained ankles are tricky issues, and can easily be re-injured trying to catch up with one of Jimmer’s patented cross-overs.
Boynton knows Fredette well. Last year, as a highly touted freshman, he played nearly the entire contest but came up fatigued late – as Fredette scored ten points (including two three-balls) in the decisive overtimes before Boynton fouled out.
This time around, Billy Donovan’s game plan will also involve rotating freshman Scott Wilbekin and Casey Prather (known as an athletic, on-ball defender) onto Fredette, in an attempt to slow down the shock and awe arsenal of college basketball’s most valuable player. However, Boynton will still do the heavy lifting in guarding Jimmer, and traditionally draws the teams toughest defensive assignment, which in conference this year included Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, as well as Ohio State’s David Lighty and K-State’s Jacob Pullen in the non-conference schedule.
On paper, it would appear that UF should be able to handle things inside, with Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Alex Tyus going 6’10” 6’10” and 6’8” respectively. They have handled taller opposition within the conference and went up against 300+ lb man-child Joshua Smith of UCLA last weekend. Last year Florida out-rebounded BYU by 12 and scored 16 more points in the paint, and that was with currently suspended Brandon Davies in the Brigham Young lineup.
Free throw shooting could also be a decisive factor, BYU is traditionally among the nation’s best from the stripe, but Florida has been a very respectable 13-17 (.765) in each of the Gators two tourney wins.
PREDICTION: BYU will clearly live or die with Jimmer; although if the likes of Chuck Abouo and Noah Hartsock can take at least some of the pressure off him, that can certainly help. Fredette is capable of taking his team to Houston, and maybe even winning the entire thing – but Billy Donovan also has experience with Final Fours and national titles.
With Gus at the mic, this should live up to all of the expectations. Just seconds remaining, Fredette with the rock…
‘JIMMER IS GOING TO DO IT HIMSELF, FROM 30 FEET, FOR THE WIIINNNN – OOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!’
- BYU-Florida Prediction: BYU 84, Florida 81
- BYU-Florida Spread Pick: Push (Florida -3)
- BYU-Florida Over-Under: Over
And for those of you interested in how these teams break down statistically, here is the matchup breakdown from the ESPN.com Bracket Predictor: