The dancing will continue for Marquette and Florida when they meet Thursday night at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. The journey will end here for one of these two squads, so find out who we expect to advance to the next round.
The two talented teams advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament by turning in dominating second round performances. The Golden Eagles routed BYU 88-68 in their first game of the tourney and came back with a 62-53 win over Murray State securing the ATS victory on both occasions.
Marquette got another clutch performance from Jae Crowder in its win over the Racers. Crowder had 17 points and 13 rebounds following up a 26-point, 16 rebound effort against BYU. For the year Crowder is averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He leads the Golden Eagles in shooting (50.4 percent) and steals.
Florida has a pair of double-digit victories to its credit including an 84-50 rout of the Norfolk State Spartans on Sunday.
The Spartans shook up the West Regional when it upset No. 2 seed Missouri 86-84 on Friday, and was trying to become the first 15 seed to reach the round of 16. However Florida put a quick end to that idea, draining five 3-pointers during a 25-0 run that made it 29-6 midway through the first half. Overall FU was 10 of 28 from beyond the arc and shot 52.8 percent from the field.
Kenny Boynton scored 20 points as the Gators reached the regional semifinals for the second straight year and sixth time in 12 NCAA tournament appearances under Coach Billy Donovan.
Florida (25-10 SU, 14-15-1 ATS) has made it look easy in its first two games coasting to lopsided wins and easy ATS victories. They opened the tournament with a 71-45 blow-out of the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday. The Cavs were allowing only 53.7 points a game. They limited North Carolina to 54 points in a three-point loss three weeks ago. Georgia Tech mustered only 38 while Wake Forest and Maryland scored just 44. Then along came the Gators.
Florida Flattens Virginia
Despite an off day by their big guns, the Gators got a surprising effort off the bench by Casey Prather who scored 14 points. Prather made 6 of 7 shots in a season-high 22 minutes while Bradley Beal had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Those efforts more than made up for Florida’s 4 of 23 shooting from beyond the arc including a 0 for 13 streak to open the game.
Overall, Donovan’s club shot 52.8 percent including 70 percent in the second half. They became just the third team this season to score 70 or more against the Cavs. At this rate, they could be looking at a third National Title in five years.
The Gators have been downright stingy in the first two games. They held the Spartans to 27.3 percent shooting including 4 of 24 from downtown (16.7 percent). Virginia was successful on just 38.3 percent of its shots including 16.7 percent (3 of 18) from 3-point land.
In the history of the tournament, No. 15 seeds are 6-107 against No. 2 seeds in the round of 64. They are 0-6 in their second games after the Spartans’ loss.
Marquette has been a solid play on the ‘over’ this season going 19-12 including three out of its last four games. The Golden Eagles are 7-3 to the high side in its last 10 outings.
Florida is 5-1 ATS in its last six NCAA tournament games and 4-1 vs. the number in its past five neutral court games. The ‘over’ is a resounding 15-3 in the Gators last 18 non-conference games.
Free college basketball pick: Either one of these teams would make a fine representative for the West in the Elite. Barring injury though, I’m going with Gators to advance opposite the Michigan State vs. Louisville winner.