No. 1 Baylor (16-1) takes on Florida (12-6) at 7:00 tonight in Gainesville. The contest airs on ESPN.
KenPom lists Baylor as a 54% favorite and has the Bears favored by one. Florida is a two point favorite on most Vegas books.
With a busier week, we’ll do the three keys style of preview and prediction.
1) Get to the line- While I normally stress Baylor’s need to take the shots the defense gives them, Florida fouls a ton. They’re 10th in the SEC in foul rate and 259th nationally this season in that category. LSU shot a paltry 2-of-14 from three, but they got to the line 31 times in their victory.
2) Don’t get destroyed by Kerry Blackshear- The Virginia Tech transfer has been phenomenal. He’s had an offensive rating over 100 in 5-of-6 SEC contests. The 6-foot-10 senior can do about everything offensively.
3) Expect Florida to make a few massive runs- The Gators are one of the strangest teams. They were handled by Missouri, a mediocre team. But they crushed Auburn, a top 20 team. Florida has massively underachieved, but they’re going to finish significantly better than they’ve started. The Gators have the ability to make several massive runs.
This is probably Baylor’s third toughest remaining game (after the game against Kansas and the game at West Virginia). Baylor will lose if they play like they did against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
The Bears are due for a return to form, and they’re still a bit better than Florida. This was a game I had as a loss in the preseason, but Florida is a little worse than they should be. Maybe this is the night Florida gets it together, but I don’t have enough faith in the Gators.
I’ll take Baylor 66-62.