No. 6 Florida Gators (21-12) at No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-9)
When and Where: Saturday, March 17, Dallas, Texas, 8:40 P.M. EST
The Florida Gators and Texas Tech Red Raiders will meet up this Saturday in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Florida had a good showing in the first round, taking down St. Bonaventure 77-62 while Texas Tech got past Stephen F. Austin in a 70-60 game that was much closer than the score implies. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16.
Florida shows depth in the opening round
The Florida Gators put together a strong first round performance against a St. Bonaventure team that looked great in their First Four victory over UCLA. The Gators showed both sides of their team, playing a slow defensive battle in the first half then exploding for 50 points in the second. A huge factor for Florida was the turnover differential. They lost the rebounding battle but made up the possessions by forcing 18 turnovers while giving up just nine. Egor Koulechov led the scoring for Florida and put up 20 points and six rebounds while nailing four threes.
The defense of the Gators has been decent this season, allowing an average of 69.2 points per game and showed significant improvements in SEC play. Once they stopped scoring 100 points every game on offense, they made the adjustments to seamlessly transition into a balanced team. The offense of the Gators averages 76.0 points per game and is led by Jalen Hudson with 15.3 points per game. He put up 16 in the first round and was the only player other than Koulechov to reach double figures.
Texas Tech grinds out a win
Texas Tech escaped their first round game but were not nearly as convincing as the Gators. They defeated Stephen F. Austin 70-60 in a game that they trailed for most of and had to hit key free-throws down the stretch to secure the win. The good news for the Red Raiders is that they have proven to themselves that they can overcome adversity and pressure in the tournament. Like always, they survived thanks to excellent defense and a rebounding attack that held a 41-31 margin over the Lumberjacks. Unsurprisingly, Keenan Evans came up huge with 23 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Evans has been the heart and soul of this team all season, putting up an average of 17.5 points and 3.2 assists per game. Despite how great of a player he is, Evans still averages less than 30 minutes of floor time per game. This extremely deep Texas Tech team has nine players with 10 or more minutes per game. That type of depth could be huge if this game is close late. Throughout the game, the Red Raiders will stick with what they know and focus on their defense. They allow an average of 64.7 points per game which is good enough for number 16 in the nation. That combined with an offense that scores 75.2 points per game makes the Red Raiders hard to stop.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 vs. Big 12.
Texas Tech is
- 0-7-1 ATS last 8 overall.
- 0-4 ATS last 4 NCAA tournament games.
Florida pulled put a more convincing win over a tougher opponent in the first round compared to Texas Tech but given the craziness of the tournament, that should not be a deciding factor for this game. What should be, is the chameleon-like style of the Gators. They can change their play style to suit any game. They dominated defensively in the first half of the game and lit up the scoreboard in the second. Early this season, they were an all offense team but when the shots stopped falling, they did not self-destruct like most teams. They stumbled for a bit, figured out their defense, and got back to winning games. That is the type of team that gets wins in March.