NCAA Basketball Picks: Florida vs. Florida State

Joe Catalano

Friday, November 29, 2013 1:12 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 1:12 PM GMT

Tonight, the 15th ranked Florida Gators (5-1) host the Florida State Seminoles (5-1) in what’s sure to be a heated matchup in the “Battle of the Sunshine State”.

With senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin back in the lineup, Florida Gators head coach, Billy Donovan has his “security blanket” back. Check out our free pick for tonight’s game.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. EST at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. This game can be seen on ESPN 2.

With Wilbekin back and home court advantage, betting odds makers have taken notice as the Gators are a 7.5 point betting favorite in this matchup.

Stability

The Gators have been a shaky 5-1, but that has been due to player suspensions. Aside from Scottie Wilbekin, the other question is the status of the health of guard DeVon Walker. His numbers haven’t been big, but in his last 2 full games played, Walker is averaging 10 points per game and is an efficient 3 point shooter. Florida is thin at the guard position and this would still be tough to lose. Keep your eye on the injury reports for further updates of Walker’s status.

Scottie Wilbekin has been welcomed back with open arms as he’s the only legitimate healthy point guard on the Gators roster. In his return, Wilbekin played a full 34 minutes despite a Florida 86-60 blowout of Jacksonville and had 12 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. He was also 2 for 2 from beyond the arc.

Head coach, Billy Donovan has got to be encouraged by what he saw from Wilbekin after some time off. Look for a big game out of Wilbekin tonight as the challenge stiffens. Florida State has only allowed one opponent over 67 points and that was Michigan in a 82-80 double overtime loss. Can the Florida offense be effective against one of the better defenses in the country in the Seminoles?

Casey Prather

Experience gives the Gators that extra edge and expect leading scorer, senior Casey Prather, to be a major factor in this ball game. Prather is coming off a monster 27 point game on 11 of 13 shooting from the field. Look for him to carry that confidence into this game against a Florida State team who is coming off of an un-impressive victory.

There is a Midnight Game!

Winning Ugly

A win goes down as a win in the record books, but the Florida State Seminoles struggled a bit in their last game, a 62-60 victory over Northeastern. When a team like Florida squeaks by an opponent such as Northeastern, that’s considered “winning ugly”. In this game, the Noles shot poorly from the field and the free throw line. Their defense was out in full force as guards Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas accounted for 10 steals combined, but this is a team that has a lot to work at if they think that they can hang with Florida.

Senior forward Okaro White will need to be more of a factor in this game. He shot just 3 of 11 against Northeastern for 6 points and fouled out in the process. If he plays like this against a Billy Donovan coached ball club, the Seminoles will lose easily by double figures. Leading scorer, Ian Miller might have been a defensive force as I had mentioned earlier, but he shot poorly against Northeastern. He’s also going to need a bounce back game on the offensive end. The margin for error is very low here.

[gameodds]14/250899/?r-1=19-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

Outcome

Even though Florida State was flat in their last game, expect a better performance against the Gators. That said, Florida is the better team, playing at home, and the addition of Wilbekin is huge as he facilitates the action. Look for a Gators cover on Friday night.

Free Pick- Florida -7.5 at Bet 365

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