Through the first weekend of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Florida’s 65-39 win over Virginia stands out among the most dominant performances.
The Gators held the Cavaliers to 29 percent shooting and a tournament-low 39 points. But in the mind of ESPN’s Dick Vitale, there’s a way the Gators could be playing even better.
Vitale recognizes that the Gators face a difficult game against the Badgers. But he says a Gators player could help swing the game.
“The amazing thing that has surprised the heck out of me about the Gators is that they’re winning and doing well defensively but one of their key kids, a guy who has scored for them all year, KeVaughn Allen, is 3-for-21,” Vitale told SEC Country. “They won and dominated without him. I think he’s going to get going a little.”
Allen averages 13.5 points per game for the Gators, but had 11 points total in wins over Virginia and East Tennessee State.
The ESPN commentator, who is helping fans make prediction’s using the Allstate Bracket Predictor a predictive tool that analyzes a number of statistics and probability metrics, added that while many were picking the Badgers to advance, he likes Florida to move on the Elite Eight. Vitale did hedge a bit in that the Gators could be in for trouble against a very good Wisconsin front court.
“The thing that scares me with them is that this might be the time they really miss John Egbunu. He was a tough kid and a physical rebounder and gave them unbelievable defense,” Vitale said. “But in this game he could be a major loss because the one problem you deal with against Wisconsin is they get great spacing but their two bigs in Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. They cause major problems for Villanova and could do the same for Florida. And that could be the case for Florida.”
Egbunu tore an ACL against Auburn back on Feb. 14 and will not play again this season. The Gators struggled against teams with strong front courts, notably Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The Gators seek their first Elite Eight appearance since 2014, when the Gators advanced to the Final Four.
Wisconsin advanced to the Sweet 16 by knocking off defending national champion Villanova.
The Gators and Badgers tip off at 9:59 p.m ET. The game can be seen on TBS.