Well, I got one thing really right yesterday, and I got one thing really wrong, when I took the under 131 points in the Big 12 league game between West Virginia and Texas. I expected that West Virginia would come into this one fired up after getting blow out by a bad K-State team this weekend, and I didn’t think a Bob Huggins coached defense was going to get torched two games in a row.
And when the Mountaineers held the Longhorns to just twenty first-half points, I knew that my evaluation had been spot on. The part that I didn’t see coming, was that West Virginia would have their best scoring night of the year. The Longhorns typically play good defense and force some of the longest possessions in the country on defense, but none of that mattered yesterday, as the Mountaineers couldn’t miss a shot.
— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 21, 2020
In the end, the game sailed to the over, and we picked up a rare loss. What can you do, when you have been as hot as we have been so far in 2020, with nearly 80% winners, you are going to get bit by the variance bug once in a while. We will look to get right back on track tonight as we head to the SEC for a game between two teams on the rise, as the LSU Tigers host the Florida Gators.
- Florida Gators (12-5) at LSU Tigers (13-4)
- Maravich Center, Baton Rouge
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: SECN
The LSU Tigers host the Florida Gators tonight in an SEC conference game between two teams fighting for first place. The Tigers started out a little slow this season, losing four games in November and December, but they have now won six straight games, including a 5-0 start in the SEC. While the Tigers are not currently ranked in the top-25, they are just outside the rankings in the also receiving votes category and are sure to be ranked if they can go 2-0 this week against Florida and Texas.
LSU hosts Florida Tuesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) January 21, 2020
For Florida, the Gators are in a similar position, as they are lurking just outside the top-25 as they too recover from a rough start to the season. The Gators started the season out in the top-10 nationally before quickly falling from the rankings after losing two out of their first four games. But Florida has things moving in the right direction now, as they have won six out of their last seven, and are 4-1 in the SEC, good for second place, one game behind LSU.
This team reminds me a lot of last year’s LSU squad. They got out to a slow start, but by the end of the year, nobody wanted to play the Tigers. After losing three games in the non-conference last year, they tore through the SEC with a 16-2 record and a regular-season conference championship. They rode that momentum all the way to the Sweet 16, before falling to Michigan State in the Big Dance.
This year, they are 5-0 in the SEC and are looking like a contender to take home back to back regular-season titles. The Tigers struggled against solid competition early in the season, as six of their eight wins came against teams outside of the top-100. But they have really picked it up lately as they have beaten Rhode Island, Liberty, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi State.
One team that gave them fits last season, was none other than these Florida Gators. They each won on the opposing team’s floor, with both of those games going into overtime, and the Gators knocked LSU out of the SEC tournament as well.
If the Tigers are going to repeat as league champs this season, they are going to need to find a way to beat the top teams in the SEC. LSU has games left on the schedule against Kentucky, Auburn, and in Gainesville against the Gators, they need to win tonight at home if they want a realistic shot at the league title.
When Kerry Blackshear Jr decided to graduate transfer from Virginia Tech to Florida in the offseason, that put the Gators right at the top of the league in terms of expectations. And although they did pick up several early-season losses, that didn’t look great at the time, all of those losses are looking much better in retrospect.
Losses to Butler and Florida State looked shaky then, but both of those teams look like they could be league champions at this point, and losses to Utah State and Missouri don’t look all that bad now, as both of those teams are well inside of the top-100. And when you look at the wins the Gators have picked up, they have top-100 wins over Miami, Xavier, Providence, Alabama, South Carolina, and Auburn.
Who Do I Like?
I really like both of these teams. They are both likely much better than they are being rated right now, and I expect both of these teams to make an impact come March. Florida is coming off of their biggest win of the season as they beat Auburn at home this weekend in dominating fashion. But unfortunately, basically all of Florida’s big wins have come out home.
The Gators have a total of one true road win this season, and that came against a 10-7 South Carolina team. They have road losses against Missouri, Butler, and UCONN, and a neutral floor loss to Utah State. While none of those are bad losses, Florida just hasn’t shown me that they can beat a quality team in a hostile environment yet this season.
And when you look at LSU, they have been really good at home. The Tigers only have one home-court loss, and that came to an East Tennessee State team that is way better than most people think. They have a home win over Liberty, that team is 19-1, and they have home wins over top-50 SEC teams, Arkansas and Mississippi State.
This is going to be a really good game. I expect back and forth action all evening long, but I just can’t see Florida picking up the upset win tonight in Baton Rouge. Now that the LSU football team has wrapped up their historic national championship season, I can see a lot of Tigers fans taking a look at their basketball team for the first time this season, and realizing hey, we could win a title in basketball as well.
I wouldn’t want to lay any more than the -2-points we are forced to lay right now, as this game is nearly certain to be competitive and come down to the final few possessions. But in the end, I see LSU winning and sneaking in a cover tonight at home. Give me the LSU Tigers laying -2-points tonight from the Maravich Center!