College Basketball - Florida Gators (-3, 151) at Tennessee Volunteers 9:00 PM EST
The accolades have rung true all year, five returning starters, the best starting five in all of college basketball, the best of friends all living in the same area. Unfortunately, they are apparently the most bored team in college basketball as well. Instead of closing the season with flourish to add intimidation factor headed into the tournament, Florida looks to be playing with all the enthusiasm of a teenager sitting at an auntís house he has not seen in five years without a hand-held video game and cell phone.
Billy Donovanís Gators have now lost two of three games and have gone five straight without covering the spread. To accuse a team of not giving best effort is often a subjective proposition. Who really knows if it is true? The statement can be made, yet the possibility exists that maybe they were just out-played by a better team that particular game or maybe just had a bad game.
Talking to any coach, two fundamental areas to measure a teamís effort is defense and rebounding. While shooting can come and go, the upper echelon clubs have staunch defense night in and night out. Dating back to last seasonís title run, only twice did the opposition shoot better then 50 percent on the season and of those two games the Gators were out-rebounded once in a home loss to South Carolina. This season four different opponents have shot better 50 percent and in two of the games Florida was also on the losing end of rebounds retrieved.
The lack of defense has occurred twice in last three games, at Vanderbilt and at mediocre LSU team who was playing without best player Glenn Davis. Florida allowed 57.1% and 51.1% respectively and was killed on the glass by LSU by thirteen. Now the challenge for Florida is going to play one of the hardest working teams in the SEC on their homecourt in Tennessee.
The Volunteers faded down the stretch last season; this has not been the case in 2007. Tennessee has won five of six, with hard working inspired play. What Bruce Pearlís club lacks in straight up defense capabilities, they make for in causing bunches of turnovers.
In last five wins, they have caused better then 20 per game led by Chris Lofton. The return of the junior guard from an ankle injury has ignited the Volunteers and he is all the way back after lighting up Arkansas on the road for 31 points in last contest. Lofton missed last Gators game, thus leaving no doubt about his aspirations for this SEC encounter.
Tennessee is 15-0 and 10-3 ATS at Thompson-Boling Arena with four of the victories coming against ranked opponents. If they would pull the minor upset, the Vols would be the first team since the 1975-76 season to go unbeaten at home. I'm big on history and I've constantly talked to my team all year long about (how) this is an opportunity for you to do something no other Tennessee team has done," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "As each team tries to carve out its niche and create its identity, what is the identity of this team going to be? It's all going to depend on how we finish."
Florida has been established as a slim 2-point favorite at sportsbook.com with a total of 151.
Besides the sensational home mark, Tennessee is 11-2 ATS as a home underdog of 3 points or less. Historically, Florida has bounced back in these types of games with 14-3 ATS record in road games off a road loss over the last decade. Florida is allowing 64.6 points a game in SEC action. If Tennessee under Pearl scores less the 74 points in a conference game, they are 2-9 ATS.
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