FLORIDA GATORS (21-2)
TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (15-8)
Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, TN
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Florida -2, Total: 128.5
No. 3 Florida tries to run its win streak to 16 games with a tough matchup at Tennessee on Tuesday night.
The Gators are just 5-8-1 ATS during their 15-game surge, but had no trouble covering the spread in a 67-41 rout of the Vols when these teams met on Jan. 25. Florida outshot its SEC rival that day 48% FG to 27% FG, as Tennessee made just 1-of-19 shots from three-point land. That win snapped a three-game losing skid in this series, where the Vols hold the surprising 13-7 (SU and ATS) edge since 2004. And going back to 1997, Tennessee is 12-4 SU (10-6 ATS) when hosting its rival, prevailing 64-58 in Knoxville last season when the teams combined to make just 9-of-35 threes (26%). Although the Vols are coming off a 72-53 blowout victory over South Carolina on Saturday, this team hasn't been able to win two straight SEC games all season, going 6-4 SU (6-3-1 ATS) in conference play. The Vols are 11-2 SU (6-3-2 ATS) at home though, outscoring visitors by a hefty 16.8 PPG (79.2 PPG to 62.4 PPG). The Gators are a perfect 10-0 SU in conference, but have been a losing wager in SEC play at 4-6 ATS. They are also a subpar 2-3-1 ATS on the road. And although Florida is 61-35 ATS (64%) after 2+ straight ATS defeats, Tennessee is a whopping 24-5 ATS (83%) as a home underdog of 6 points or less since 1997. Neither team has any major injuries to contend with, as Florida starting SF Casey Prather (ankle) is probable for this rivalry game.
Can Tennessee put an end to Florida's long winning streak? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 58% ATS (198-141-11) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (166-107-6) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (44-24-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (37-17-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (42-27-1) for the season and 68% ATS (25-12) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a strong 57% ATS (39-29-2) for the season and 59% ATS (29-20-2) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a solid 56% ATS (37-29-4) on Best Bets this season, including 59% ATS (31-22-3) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 53% ATS (36-32-2) for the season, and 57% ATS (30-23) since Nov. 29.
Florida is not a great offensive team, scoring only 71.4 PPG (179th in nation), but it shoots adequately, knocking down 46.6% FG and 34.3% threes. Rebounding has also been solid with a +5.8 RPG margin and 36.9 RPG (94th in Div. I). But the reason this is the No. 3 team in the country is due to a defense that allows a mere 57.9 PPG (6th in nation) on 39.0% FG (17th in Div. I) and 33.3% threes. These defensive numbers have been even better in conference play, where SEC teams manage just 56.8 PPG on 38.0% FG. The Gators are very balanced on offense, with PG Scottie Wilbekin (12.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 SPG) the only player averaging more 30 minutes per game (33.6 MPG), but the club still has four double-digit scorers and three others that contribute at least five points per game. The leading scorer is SF Casey Prather (15.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG) who is shooting a robust 62.4% FG this season, good for 15th among all Division I players. He started off the month with a mere 6.0 PPG and 2.0 RPG in two games, but logged just 21.0 MPG in those contests because of a sprained ankle. But he showed on Saturday that his ankle was just fine, playing 33 minutes versus Alabama and finishing with 15 points (7-of-11 FG), six rebounds and three assists. In last month's meeting with Tennessee, Prather scored 12 points (5-of-7 FG) but played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble and a lopsided score. SG Michael Frazier II (12.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG) knocks down 43% of his threes this season and was on fire when the Gators hosted the Vols on Jan. 25, netting a game-high 17 points on 5-of-8 FG (3-of-6 threes) with four rebounds. Beginning with that performance, Frazier has averaged 15.0 PPG his past five contests, draining at least three 3-pointers in all five contests. C Patric Young (10.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG) shoots nearly as well from the floor (56.0% FG) as from the foul line (56.2% FT) this season, but has been a consistent scorer with double-figure points in 10 of his past 12 games. In just 22 minutes versus Tennessee last month, Young had 10 points and five rebounds. PF Dorian Finney-Smith (9.7 RPG, 7.6 RPG) nearly had a double-double in that win over the Vols with nine points and eight boards, but he has been ice-cold ever since, averaging 6.5 PPG on 29% shooting (2-of-13 threes) in four games, bringing his season marks down to 38% FG and 32% threes.
Tennessee has been an average offensive team this season with 73.1 PPG (134th in nation) on 44.6% FG (164th in Div. I) and 35.4% threes, but these numbers increase greatly at home to 79.2 PPG, 47.4% FG and 41.1% threes. The Vols have been committed to defense though, as they allow a mere 63.1 PPG (32nd in nation) on 41.9% FG and 35.2% threes. These defensive numbers also improve considerably at home where they have allowed 62.4 PPG on 39.8% shooting, but opponents have made 36.8% threes in Knoxville. The one area where Tennessee should have the advantage is rebounding, where the club averages 39.3 RPG (21st in Div. I) and holds a substantial +9.0 RPG advantage. The offense is mostly a three-man show, with the perimeter scoring led by SG Jordan McRae (19.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG) and the post touches belonging to SF Jarnell Stokes (14.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG) and PF Jeronne Maymon (11.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG). McRae was abysmal in Gainesville last month, scoring a pathetic five points on 1-of-15 shooting (1-of-6 threes). However, since that game, he has averaged a hefty 23.0 PPG and made 20-of-35 threes (57%) to bring his season rate to 40% threes. Stokes posted a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in last month's loss to Florida which jump-started a streak of four straight double-doubles. He fell just short of extending that streak on Saturday with 17 points and eight boards versus South Carolina. Maymon also had a solid showing versus the Gators on Jan. 25 with eight points and seven rebounds. In four games since that outing, Maymon has averaged 10.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG.