The No. 3 Florida Gators take to the road tonight in SEC college basketball when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Florida as a small favorite here on the road.
Florida is the third-ranked team here in the country, but they're only a slight favorite over Tennessee. That alone should alarm those looking to get down on the Gators tonight. Florida has rolled off 10 straight wins in the SEC, having not lost yet in conference. They've only lost twice on the road this season, both coming prior December 3 to Wisconsin and Connecticut. Since then Florida has 15 straight wins overall.
So why is Tennessee, a team that's 6-4 in the league and 15-8 overall, only an underdog by a single basket here tonight? Well, it's been proven the past few weeks that winning on the road in conference play is nearly impossible. Team after team ranked in the Top 25 have gone on the road in their respective conferences and lost. Florida will try to help change that trend here tonight.
The Vols have been very solid in home games this season, winning 11 of their 13 games. Tennessee can score points and actually average more per game than Florida does. But the defense from the Gators is what sets them apart from Tennessee and the rest of the country. The Gators allow just 57.9 points per game to opponents this season, ranking them sixth nationally in scoring defense. In the first matchup between these two schools Florida boat raced the Vols, 67-41, in Gainesville. Tennessee shot 26.8 percent from the floor in that game and connected on just 1-of-19 shots from downtown.
Tennessee will look to get a big game on the perimeter from Jordan McRae, who is averaging 19.7 points per game. He had just five points against Florida in the opener. But he has rebounded well from that game, averaging better than 23 points per game in the four games since the loss to Florida. Down low the Vols will need big games from Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon. The duo are contributing 25 points and 18 rebounds per game this season and will need to battle with the Gators on the front line.
Florida had four guys that average in double digits per game, led by Casey Prather's 15.6 points per game. Michael Frazier, Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young all hit for more than 10 points per game as well. The Gators are very spread out offensively and play the best defense of any team in the conference.
That defense will be the difference in tonight's game. The Volunteers are a solid club and you'd think Florida should be favored by more than a bucket in this game, but Florida just has too much talent. There's a revenge factor here for the Vols as well and they're a good team, there's no denying that. But Florida is playing on another level in the SEC so far this season.
Free Pick: Florida 70, Tennessee 63
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