Great Danes can win because…
The Great Danes have a chance to win for a couple of reasons. First, Albany has played a game in this tournament, while Florida has had to stop what it was doing and regroup from the SEC Tournament. Albany has more of a natural and fluid game rhythm. Basketball is not a sport that is played once a week the way football is. Albany's players have to like the fact that they can continue to play a game, get one day of rest, and play another game. This team will not be rusty. It will not be like other small conference tournament winners that had to take two weeks off before playing in the NCAA tournament. This team won't need to warm up. It won't need to settle into this game. Albany is "game-ready" right now, while Florida is the team that might need time to settle into this game on Thursday.
The other reason why Albany might win is that Florida just got done with a very emotional and intense SEC Tournament. The Gators played three physical and demanding games in three days against Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Missouri is a team that nearly made the NCAA tournament. Tennessee and Kentucky both made the NCAA tournament, and the combination of the Volunteers and Wildcats made Florida work extremely hard to win every game. Florida was physically pushed, and there's a chance the Gators could be drained in this game. Albany could hang around and steal the game in the final minutes.
The Gators can win because…
Florida should win because it's simply better. This team has won 26 games in a row. It has forgotten how to lose. Florida gets great floor leadership from point guard Scottie Wilbekin, one of the finest players in the country. Whenever the Gators are in a little bit of trouble, Wilbekin steps up for them and either hits a big shot, makes a big defensive play, or comes up with a pass to set up a teammate for a really good shot.
There's more to this team than just Wilbekin, though. Patric Young has become a better post player, for one thing. Will Yeguete and Dorian Finney-Smith provide defense and a lot of agility all over the court, helping out with rebounding as well. Casey Prather is a smooth offensive player who can finish plays near the basket. Michael Frazier is the three-point shooting specialist who fits nicely into the rest of the team's offensive makeup. There are so many pieces to this team, all of them strong, all of them capable of being a little bit better when one part isn't as good as expected. Someone always steps up for this team, and against Albany, the Gators shouldn't have much trouble.
Florida is bigger and stronger. The Gators are faster and have a better offense. This game should not be close. This is not the place to look for a 16 seed beating a number one seed for our NCAA Tournament picks.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Florida