Gators Still a Reliable Bet Against Texas Tech

Rainman M.

Friday, March 16, 2018 8:32 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 16, 2018 8:32 PM UTC

Six-seeded Florida and three-seeded Texas Tech meet Saturday at 8:40 ET in the second round of the East region in Dallas. The Red Raiders are small favorites to advance into the Sweet 16 but will need to alter two crucial betting trends to do so.

Florida Gators (21-12 SU, 17-16 ATS) vs Texas Tech Red Raiders (24-10 SU, 14-17-1 ATS)East Region, Sunday, 8:40 PM ETFree NCAAB Picks: Florida +2Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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In its opening game against 14-seeded Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech struggled to achieve a rhythm on offense. The game was still tied with a few minutes left until the Raiders finally pulled away to avoid a major upset. They will have to face a higher-quality team in Florida whose defense presents similar match-up issues and will make them struggle to score.

The Red Raiders consistently struggle against teams whose strength on defense is inside and who are stingy in that they play with active hands, forcing a high rate of turnovers and achieving many steals. Teams like Oklahoma State and Stephen F. Austin consistently cover against the Raiders because they rank in the top 100 in percentage of turnovers achieved, opposing two-point percentage, and percentage of steals achieved. The Gators are similarly built with their stymying man defense. The Red Raiders easily allow a defense to make it uncomfortable on the dribble and the Gators will present another example of that tendency. Texas Tech is vulnerable to turning it over, ranking 161st in turnover percentage, and will lose the turnover battle today.

In a game where oddsmakers are expecting scoring to be difficult, turnover margin is huge. Turnovers can instantaneously mean points for the other team or at least fewer scoring opportunities for one's own team and more for the other. The Gators thrive at turning turnovers into points. Their transition offense is experienced in tournament play and is a big reason why Florida ranks 115th in average length of offensive possession. The Gators are typically efficient in transition. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza leads the charge, ranking 59th in steal rate.

Unlike Texas Tech, the Gators are typically ball-secure and rank sixth in turnover rate. They have three guards who rank in the top 200 in the category. Florida is not one to play strong team offense. Texas Tech is anyhow difficult to beat in the half-court. But the Gators do possess talented shooters. They rely especially on the three-pointer, ranking in the top 100 both in three-point percentage and proportion of threes attempted. Forwards Jalen Hudson, Egor Koulechov, and Keith Stone rank in the top 250 in the category. They'll get plenty of opportunities against the Raiders, who don't guard the perimeter well, ranking 220th in opposing proportion of three-point attempts. TT's strong opposing three-point percentage has been easier to obtain in the Big 12, which is not known for having teams that thrive in three-point shooting.

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TT relies for the greatest part of its offensive production on scoring inside, where Florida's defensive strength is. The Gators rank in the top 50 in both opposing two-point and block percentage. Big men Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone rank among the top 300 blockers. Scoring opportunities are also difficult to create against Florida's top-50 half-court defense. Raiders' star point guard Keenan Evans will struggle both on the ball and in passing.

Significant trends buttress the case for Florida's match-up advantage. The Raiders have been consistently unable to fulfill the expectations of oddsmakers, going 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight games. Conversely, the Gators have been underrated by oddsmakers, covering four of their past five on our NCAAB Picks. The Gators are also teaser-friendly as TT hasn't won by more than four points in over a month.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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