NCAA Basketball Picks: Northwestern State vs. Florida

David Lawrence

Monday, March 18, 2013 5:21 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 5:21 PM UTC

The Florida Gators have had problems winning close games this season, but will the Northwestern State Demons be able to keep this game close for 40 minutes?

College Basketball Betting – Northwestern State vs. Florida 

Northwestern State can win because…

It manages to execute on offense at a high level. What immediately jumps out at you in assessing Northwestern State and their chances in the NCAA tournament is that the Demons average 81 points per game. The Demons' Southland Conference Tournament final against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday showed how resourceful this team is at the offensive end of the floor. Stephen F. Austin was one of the more impressive small-conference teams in college basketball this season, limiting Southland Conference teams to just over 50 points per game. For Northwestern State to ring up 68 against the Lumberjacks of SFA speaks highly of the Demons' ability to put good possessions together. Stephen F. Austin entered that game with a 27-3 overall record, 18-2 in the Southland when one includes two conference tournament victories (in addition to a 16-2 record during the regular season portion of the slate). If Northwesten State could turn in a solid showing against SFA, it can handle a Florida team that witnessed two starters, Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton, suffer slight injuries this past Sunday in the championship game of the SEC Tournament against Ole Miss. That’s their best shot on the NCAA basketball odds.

Here's the deeper point about Florida's injuries: Murphy and Boynton will play in this game, but they'll be well below 100 percent. If Northwestern State can make threes, it can really cause problems for Florida's defense, partly because Murphy and Boynton might not be able to rotate or switch on screens as fluidly as they did before their injuries. Another aspect of Florida's profile on defense is that if it sees a shooter get hot, it will send double-teams at that shooter. If the shooting threat can pass out of double-teams, Florida can get caught with nobody near the basket to defend the rim. This is what Ole Miss did against the Gators. Northwestern State will have a chance to do it as well.

Florida can win because…

The Gators are too strong and have too much quickness for Northwestern State. Florida might not have a fully healthy core of eight players (five starters and three reserves in a typical rotation) but even with six healthy bodies, the Gators have plenty of material on Friday. They should be able to deal with anything the Demons put in their faces. Handicappers making their sports picks know that Patric Young is a beast in the low post and Northwestern State will not be able to stop him. Guards Scottie Wilbekin and Mike Rosario are inconsistent offensive players, but their defense is generally always strong and dependable. As long as Wilbekin and Rosario are hounding opposing guards on the perimeter, the Boynton and Murphy injuries probably won't matter all that much.


Outlook & Prediction:

This is a game in which people making their NCAA basketball picks know that Florida just needs to advance, given its injury limitations. Coach Billy Donovan will want to not push Boynton or Murphy here, trying to save those players for the round of 32 against UCLA or Minnesota. This could backfire for Florida but the Gators are a mature team - one that gets rattled in high-pressure situations against elite teams, but one that knows what it has to do and generally puts the hammer down against inferior ones. Northwestern State is not an elite team. Florida will be prepared for the Demons' offense.

College Basketball Picks: Florida -20 at Bookmaker

comment here