We took a day off from college hoops last night as there really weren’t any real games to speak of being played. Tonight is a similarly light schedule, but there is one big-time heavyweight matchup between Florida and Kansas that is worth watching. Neither is in the Top 10 in the most recently released poll, but that doesn’t mean that these aren’t two potentially elite basketball teams. I have both on my short list of ten teams that could win a national championship come March.
Meanwhile Arizona moved into the top spot for the first time in a decade thanks to an impressive start. So is the Pac-12 back? Arizona is unbeaten, so is Oregon and Colorado. UCLA looks decent and so do Arizona State and Stanford… but the bottom of the league is still way too bad to consider this with the elite conferences in the country. Realistically, outside of Arizona, is anyone in this conference a real Final Four threat??
OK, let’s get back to two teams that are a threat – Kansas and Florida, for today’s free pick.
Kansas Jayhawks at Florida Gators -2.5
The Gators are ranked lower, #19, than #13 Kansas, but both teams enter with two losses already and in danger of falling out of the Top 20. Of course, rankings aren’t always the most effective way to gauge a team’s strength. Florida has two losses; one to Wisconsin to open the season without three of their key players and a second loss on a miracle buzzer-beater on the road at UConn. Neither of those will hurt them come tourney time, and if anything, have probably made them a better team.
Meanwhile Kansas’s losses are a little more disconcerting. They have lost to quality teams in Villanova and Colorado, but they haven’t lost to elite teams. To this point in the season, the young Jayhawks have seemed unable to at least reluctant to respond to the fact that they are going to get every team’s BEST effort every game. Kansas is the game that is circled on opponents’ schedules. They need to start circling a few themselves.
The talent is undeniable. But to this point, Andrew Wiggens looks more like Harrison Barnes as a freshman than Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony. He isn’t dominating games, and at times, you barley notice him on the floor. Yes, he is averaging over 15 points a game, but it hasn’t been the eye-popping debut many were expecting. I think tonight will a tough night to have a breakthrough game. Florida is a physical and veteran team, and they are playing at home where they rarely lose.
Good news for Florida – both Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbiken will play tonight, making the Gators at full strength. I think that is strong enough to beat a good Kansas team tonight.