The NCAA Tournament continues on Thursday with the Sweet Sixteen. Here we will see we will see the No. 3 seed Marquette Golden Eagles take on the No. 7 seed Florida Gators. The game is scheduled for a 10:17 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on TBS. Currently the odds have Marquette favored by 2 points with the total sitting at 147 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: Florida, the seventh seed in the region, had some trouble during the month of February and at the beginning of March, but when it counted the most the Gators came up big and are now making their seventh appearance in the round of 16 in school history. It marks the sixth time under the direction of head coach Billy Donovan, who directed the squad to national titles in back-to-back seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07). The Gators opened the NCAAs with a 71-45 drubbing of Virginia and followed that up with 34-point drilling (84-50) of Norfolk State. Florida is such a dangerous team because it has so many offensive weapons to choose from, with 5 players that average double figures. Leading scorer G Kenny Boynton (16.3 PPG) was just 3-of-10 for eight points against Virginia, but dominated Norfolk State with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Six-foot-3 freshman G Bradley Beal (14.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG) is the team’s most complete player who contributes in all facets. He’s had a tremendous four-game postseason (2 SEC, 2 NCAA) with 16.0 PPG and 8.8 RPG. Senior PG Erving Walker (12.1 PPG) leads the team with 4.7 APG, but has just five assists and four turnovers in the two NCA games. He’s also in a prolonged shooting slump, making just 33% of his shots (15-of-45 FG) in March. Overall the Gators are 26th in scoring at 76.3 ppg and they make 9.8 threes per game (most in nation) at an impressive 38.3% clip. They also play very smart with a 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio (12th in nation) and commit just 15.6 fouls per game (19th in D-I). Florida has now played a total of eight neutral site games this season, winning all but one of them, and over the course of those contests the team has outscored the competition by a margin of 17.5 ppg, converting 86 three-point baskets against just 36 for the opposition. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles are into the Sweet 16 for the 15th time in school history. The squad sports a record of 38-30 in the event and won the 1977 National Championship under the guidance of legendary coach Al McGuire. With tonight's contest the team is appearing in back-to-back Sweet 16 contests for the first time since that title year. Marquette has been a great bet outside of Milwaukee, going 12-6 ATS on road/neutral courts. The Golden Eagles are great on the perimeter, ranking among the nation’s top-20 teams in assists (16.7 APG), steals (8.7 SPG) and turnover margin (+3.4 per game). They aren’t as effective down low, getting outrebounded on the season and blocking just 3.5 shots per game. The senior Crowder (17.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG) has been tremendous in all areas over the first two NCAA Tournament games, averaging 21.0 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 3.5 SPG and 3.0 APG. His 17 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 62-53 win over Murray State gives him five straight double-doubles. Fellow senior teammate G Darius Johnson-Odom (18.5 PPG) has 18.5 PPG in two NCAA games and has scored 17+ points in nine of his past 10 games. head coach Buzz Williams has to be pleased with the fact that the Golden Eagles have held BYU and MSU to a combined 34.4 percent from the floor and 27.5 percent on the perimeter. Just this season alone Marquette is 14-2 when holding opponents under 40 percent from the field, 41-3 when the team hits that mark with coach Williams at the helm.
Free Pick: Been on the bandwagon of Marquette all year and would have loved to play them here, but the line was a bit scary so ill go with the total. Both of these teams will push the ball and get up plenty of shots and that should equal plenty of points. Florida has averaged 76.3 ppg on the year, while the Golden Eagles have scored 75.9 ppg, while both defenses are just average.. Florida does get a lot of their points from long range, while Marquette uses the uptempo pace to generate their scoring, plus we have two teams that hit 71+% of their FT's. This will be the last game of the day and it will be fun to watch. Expect a lot of running and scoring as this one flirts with 160 points.
Betting Strategies: March Madness 2012 - Recaps and TipsHost Marco D'Angelo and Pregame Pro Bryan Leonard discuss their recaps of the first "half" of the NCAA March Madness tournament and give their insight and tips on how to approach Sweet 16 and beyond.