Florida looks to pick up a road win in their quest to return the top 25 today when they take on the #24 Butler Bulldogs. Butler, however, will attempt to hand Florida its third loss of the year as they seek to extend their eight-game winning streak and their undefeated season.
Florida and Butler have achieved the exact opposite of their preseason expectations so far. Several picked Florida to be among the top teams in the nation, but this prediction seems questionable at this point as the Gators suffered an eighteen-point loss to then-unranked Florida State and came up short against a surprising UConn team. In contrast, Butler keeps winning despite being picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East. This means that each team will show up with one point to prove—that they belong near the top of the college basketball rankings.
What To Watch For:
- Butler’s Kamar Baldwin (17.1 ppg) and Florida’s Keyontae Johnson (13.6 ppg) will be the most exciting players on the court. Baldwin is one of the best scoring guards in the Big East and can explode on defenses (he scored 33 on Ole Miss in his most recent game). Johnson is an athletic, big-bodied forward (6’5”, 245 lbs) who drives the lane with the power of a blitzing linebacker and finishes with finesse.
- The battle for points in the paint will be interesting as Kerry Blackshear, Jr.,Florida, and Bryce Golden, Butler, can both score. Look for Golden to shoot the three occasionally and for Blackshear to show off some nice moves in the low post.
- There are two offensive wild cards in this game. If Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard scores over ten points, the Gators will win. If Butler forward Sean McDermott scores over ten points, the Bulldogs will win.
This should be an interesting out-of-conference battle that comes down to the wire. Although most seem to favor Butler by a few points, I think Florida’s depth will help the Gators take home a much needed win.