Florida as a Small Dog is Your NCAA Basketball Pick vs. George Washington

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 3:31 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 3:31 PM UTC

Florida is a Power 5 conference team from the SEC that plays stiff defense, and that could be enough to prevail visiting a mid-major in George Washington in the NIT Wednesday.

The SEC may show its class on the road Wednesday night when the stiff defense of the Florida Gators (21-14, 17-15-1 ATS) from that Power 5 conference pay a visit to the mid-major George Washington Colonials (25-10, 15-16-1 ATS) out of the Atlantic 10 in the quarterfinals of the NIT from the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, DC at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.

The point spread at 5Dimes has Florida as a scant road underdog for this contest with the current line at +2 on the NCAA Basketball odds board at odds of -105.


Both Teams Won on Road
Both of these teams won on the road to advance to this quarterfinal, where the winner goes to the Final Four of the NIT at Madison Square Garden next week. Florida in fact has won twice on the road, first routing North Florida 97-68 in Jacksonville in the opening round before beating the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus 74-66 on Sunday.

George Washington opened up this NIT at home and barely survived in an 82-80 win over Hofstra while failing to cover the point spread, although the Colonials did then go on the road and snap a four-game ATS losing streak as the surprisingly easy winning NCAA Basketball picks 87-71 over the national darlings from Monmouth.


Great Gators Defense in NIT
Now, we get that the SEC is the lowest ranked of the power conferences overall according to the Pomeroy Ratings, but it is a major conference nonetheless and remember that the Gator put up a good fight in the SEC Tournament losing by just six points in the quarterfinals to a Texas A&M team that won the regular season conference title and is currently the last SEC team standing in the NCAA Tournament.

The Gators win with defense and that has been apparent in their two NIT wins while putting forth honest efforts each time, which is not always the case with teams like Florida that have become accustomed to NCAA appearances, with this marking the first time the school has been in the NIT since 2009. The Gators are allowing just a 40.9 field goal percentage overall this season while ranking 33rd in the country in effective field goal percentage allowed (46.5 percent).

Florida is also 19th in the land in defensive efficiency, and the Gators have put the defense to good use in this tournament by holding North Florida and Ohio State to 43.6 percent and 39.0 percent shooting respectively, and the percentage allowed vs. North Florida was actually lower until the Gators relaxed with a humongous lead.


Easier Path for George Washington?
Granted, George Washington is the higher seeded team here that currently has the 25-10 record, but keep in mind that the Colonials come out of an Atlantic 10 that is ranked only eighth among all conference on Pomeroy, and yet they went only 11-7 in the conference including three losses to teams ranked worst than 100th on Pomeroy overall, the worst of which coming to a 242nd ranked Saint Louis team.

Thus there is a reason that a Florida team that is 21-14 is ranked 39th on Pomeroy while a George Washington team that is 25-10 is ranked just 66th and the Colonials also probably had an easier path to get here. First, they were the only one of these teams to play a home game in this NIT before tonight in which they barely escaped, and then when they did win on the road it was over a team that plays in the MAAC, a fact that may have cost Monmouth an NCAA berth.

At least Florida defeated another major conference school in Ohio State of the Big Ten on the road last game, so GW might actually represent a drop in class for the Gators.


Trouble vs. SEC
Finally, George Washington has not fared well vs. SEC opponents from a betting standpoint as the Colonials are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games vs. teams from that power conference. George Washington is also just 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall, while Florida enters this contest riding a 4-1 ATS run with the lone ATS loss in this span being by one point vs. a Texas A&M team that is in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

So look for the Florida class edge and superior defense to decide this contest, resulting in the mild upset when the Gators visit George Washington in the NIT on ESPN2 on Wednesday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Florida +2 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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