College Basketball Sweet 16 - Butler vs. Florida (-10Ĺ, 126Ĺ) 7:10 EST
Coach Todd Lickliter club will never make Dick Vitaleís all airport team, because they lack the impressive size and body types that would place others in awe. Instead Lickliter has built a style of play that allows him to not only compete in the Horizon League, but this season on a national level from game one of the season.
Butler strengths include the drive and dish game, which incorporates unique spacing patterns that are contrary to normal defensive methods. The Butler players have been well-schooled in a NBA-type way not to panic when the shot clock goes to single digits and are very comfortable putting up quality shots as the clock winds down. This causes opponents tremendous frustration, as evidenced by the number of times Maryland players dropped there heads after made baskets by Butler.
What has keyed this teamís success all year has been the defense. With no player over 6í7, they rely on old-school shuffling of the feet, keeping the man and ball in front of them and boxing out for rebounds. It is not going to be SportsCenter highlight reel of material, instead what every D-1 coach wishes, his more talented players would more unselfish and play this way.
Many keep waiting for Florida to play like they did in the latter stages of the regular season. For those wondering if it will happen, they may have to wait until after the Gators win back to back titles.
Florida is again playing with the dedication both mentally and physically needed to win another championship. Billy Donovanís team now has six wins in a row (5-1 ATS) and is shooting even better then 50+ percent they had achieved all season. The Gators are back to not only making the extra pass, they are doing a better job in being prepared to accept the ball in better position to be more effective scorers.
With all the NBA talent on the floor, Taureen Green is the most indispensable player. He sets up the offense, is the chief ball handler, and has strong driving ability to get to the rim, while converting 88 percent from the charity stripe in tight ball games. He is the main cog as to why Florida is 15-4 ATS in all neutral court lined games over the last two seasons.
With the recent history of Gators success and huge differential in size and quickness, sportsbook.com has the defending champs as 10.5-point favorites.
Florida has out-rebounded the opposition by 8 per game and takes on a Butler club that has been beaten on the glass 18 times this season. All but one of the Bulldogs losses have come when they are beaten on the boards and they are only 9-8 ATS when this happens.
Butler needs to play to strengths and no team in D-1 hoops commits fewer turnovers then they do. For those liking underdogs this is good news, with the Gators 1-7 ATS versus good ball handling teams - committing 14 or less turnovers a game after 15+ games this season. Butler is also 14-6 ATS after a game where they covered the spread and are sweet 6-0 against the spread as an underdog.
Itís not a good idea to discount a talented Florida club that has all the physical edges and is 12-3 ATS in March with its collection of players. This will be the opening game from St. Louis as the field is paired down to Elite Eight by the end of the evening.
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