Florida Gators (21-3, 11-1) vs. Missouri Tigers (18-7, 7-5)
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, MO
Line: Florida -5
KenPom Projection: Florida 73, Missouri 63
Previous Meeting: Florida 83, Missouri 52
The Metrics Love Florida. The Gators are ranked number one by both KenPom and ESPN’s BPI which is a testament to how efficient they can be on both ends of the floor. KenPom ranks Florida as possessing the second best offense and second best defense in the nation. The Gators are shooting an effective field goal percentage of 57.9 % (2nd in the nation) while holding to opponents to 42.2% (5th in the nation). When Florida is on top of their game they are the toughest team in the country to beat.
Florida Struggles Away From Home. For as good as Florida has been they have struggled against top teams away from home. The Gators are 3-3 in road or neutral site games against teams ranked in KenPom’s Top 100 and are 1-2 against Top 50 teams. Florida’s lone Top 50 road/neutral win came against Middle Tennessee in Tampa, Florida.
Erik Murphy Makes Almost Everything. Murphy is hitting 50% of his three point field goal attempts. Fifty. Percent. Add in his 61.5% shooting from inside the arc and you have one of the best scorers in the country. With that said, Murphy can disappear in big games. He managed just six points in 28 minutes against Middle Tennessee, eight points in 31 minutes against Kansas State, and nine points in 34 minutes against Arkansas. He’s a very good shooter, yes, but he is not unstoppable.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Attack. Florida is not a very deep team at the moment due to Will Yeguete‘s knee injury and the Tigers need to take advantage of this by attacking inside when they can. Murphy (4.3 FC/40) and Patric Young (3.2 FC/40) are both prone to fouling. Young has committed 14 personal fouls in Florida’s three losses. The quicker Mizzou can get Young and Murphy into foul trouble, the more they’ll be able to exploit Florida’s bench.
Disrupt The Flow. Florida is an excellent passing team that moves the ball around efficiently to create open looks for their shooters. Mizzou must put pressure on Florida’s guards in order to create turnovers and hurry shots. The Tigers saw in Gainesville how dangerous Florida can be when they have open looks so the Tigers have to do more to disrupt the flow of Florida’s offense this time around.
The Tigers may not be a bubble team, but they are dangerously close to being one. Missouri comes into this game having lost three of their last four games to teams ranked in KenPom’s Top 50, losers of five of their last 11 games, and three months removed from their best win of the season (VCU). With Nerlens Noel’s injury, a win over Kentucky may not carry the same weight as it might have just a few weeks ago. This means tonight likely represents the last chance in the regular season Mizzou has to land a marquee win.
It’s a good thing they are at home.
Prediction: Missouri 71, Florida 69