#7 Florida Gators vs. #3 Marquette Warriors -1.5 — West Regional Semifinals
This game is easily the tightest line of the night, despite having a similarly wide seed discrepancy as the other three matchups (four, the same as UC v Ohio State, and one tighter than the two 1 v. 4 matchups). The reason the line shrunk so quickly is the tantalizing stat lines and box scores turned in by Florida over the weekend. They have a coach whose name you recognize. They have a few players in Young, Boynton and Erving Walker who you remember from tournaments past. And, the just blew two teams out by a combined 62 points in the opening two rounds.
What’s NOT to like about the Florida Gators right now?
Well, let me give you a few things before you rush with the masses to plop down your money on the Gators. For starters, did you see who they played Sunday? Apologies to Missouri fans, who, like many of us who had them in our Final Four, are still hurting a bit, but Norfolk State is not good. At all. As in, terrible. They didn’t even win the Mid-eastern Conference regular season title. They had to upset mighty Savannah State to get into the Big Dance. Before the Mizzou Miracle, their best win was against Drexel (impressive), but they also had losses to Coppin State, Delaware State and Elizabeth City State. Where the hell is Elizabeth City State, you ask?? Why in Elizabeth City, of course…
The point is, let’s not get too carried away with the Gators recent exploits. Prior to their tourney run, they lost four of five, including double digit losses to Kentucky (fair enough), Vanderbilt (okay…) and GEORGIA (vomit).
Look, the Gators are talented, and when they play through Brad Beal and Patrick Young as opposed to Boynton and Walker, they can play with just about anyone in the country. However, Marquette has similarly talented and athletic guards, and has already well established who they play through. If you haven’t seen Jae Crowder play yet, you are in for a treat. The largely unknown Big East player of the year burst on to the scene this season and took Marquette from a “good little team” into a legit Final Four contender. Coupled with Johnson-Odom and Vander Blue, they make one of the most versatile wing/frontcourt combos in the country.
As long as Marquette can keep the reins on Patrick Young, and I think they can, they have a decisive edge in this contest. Marquette has not only won eight of their last ten games, they have also covered the spread in all eight of those wins. With the line a narrow one and half points , I don’t suspect they will have difficulty in doing both again tonight. Give me the Warriors to win and advance.
Free Pick: Marquette Warriors -1.5