NCAA Basketball Pick: LSU/Florida Fighting for SEC's 2nd Place

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 3:18 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 3:18 PM UTC

LSU visits the Florida Gators at the O’Connell Center in a battle of teams fighting for 2nd place in the SEC. Join us as we make our college prediction and pick for this matchup.

LSU vs. Florida (-10) 7:00 ET ESPN
LSU visits the Florida Gators at the O’Connell Center in a battle of teams fighting for 2nd place in the SEC.  Fortunately for LSU, they don’t have to win the game to get the money.  For, Florida is 54-4 SU on their strong home court L3+Y. That record does include a pair of losses this year by a count of 69-67 to Miami, FL and 63-59 to UConn, the only 2 games in which the Gators were favored by 10 or less points at this venue.  Each of these teams comes off an embarrassing loss on Saturday.  Florida lost wire-to-wire at rival Georgia by a score of 73-61.  LSU led virtually the entire game at home, before dropping a 67-64 decision to Texas A&M.  After those results, LSU NCAA basketball odds have them at 2-2 SU in SEC play, while Florida is 3-1 SU.

Last year, under 19th year HC Billy Donovan, Florida had a team that was good enough to win the National Title.  They had played in the Elite 8 in the previous season, winning 29 games for the 2nd time in 3 years.  Last year, the Gators advanced to the Final Four, before losing to eventual National Champion, Connecticut.  That was a senior laden team.  It left Billy D with much work to be done in the area of rebuilding.  Gone are PG Wilbekin, (C) Patrick Young, (PF) Will Yeguete and leading scorer, Casey Prather.  This year, the Gators are built around lone returning starter, Michael Frazier, last year’s 6th man, Finney-Smith, reserve PG Hill and big man Chris Walker.  But, the Gators have yet to gel.  True enough, this is a team on the verge of Defensive Dandy status, allowing just 58 PPG on less than 40% from the field.  But the offense has been abysmal, averaging just 67.6 PPG.  66% FT shooting guarantees the back door is wide open, if LSU needs to come through.  That may not need to happen! 

LSU is smartly coached by 3rd year HC Johnny Jones, who has returned to his alma mater.  Jones has an outstanding history of being one of the nation’s best road coaches.   In his storied career on the bench, Jones’ teams are 85-53 ATS as road dog, including 40-19 ATS L8Y and 2-0 ATS this season with outright road wins at two tough venues, WVU and Ole Miss.  The Tigers have one of the best interior tandems in the nation in Mickey and Martin.  Jones also made a great recruiting coop by grabbing PG Gray with a storied past from Odessa College.  It has provided a stabilizing influence and been a key to opening up numerous 3 point shots for UNC-Ashville transfer, Keith Hornsby.   The Tigers are also near Defensive Dandy status, allowing just 40% from the field, 30% from the arc.  But, they are clearly a more explosive offensive team, averaging 75 PPG.

Must respect the coaching of Billy D, the home court of the O’Connell Center and the Florida motivation following a loss!  But, the Tigers may be the better team to add with the rest of your NCAA Basketball picks, receive a generous impost and have proven their road ability under Jones. 

Free College Basketball Pick: Take LSU

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