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Gators at Wildcats Headline Saturday NCAA Hoops

Casey Prather

Casey Prather

Today, we get some answers. Are the Florida Gators a national championship caliber team? Today we get an answer. Are the Kentucky Wildcats really getting better as the season does on? Today, we get the answer. Will UK have a Final Four caliber team in March? Today we get an answer. Is it better to have a team full of freshmen who are sure NBA first round picks or a team full of battled tested seniors who are also NBA caliber players? Today we get an answer.

The #3 Florida Gators visit the #14 Kentucky Wildcats at 9:00 EST. With the loss last night by the Arizona Wildcats to the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Gators are poised to move into the #2 spot next week, IF they can win tonight. But there is not a bigger if in college basketball than winning a road game at Rupp. Even sure Hall of Fame coach Billy Donovan has only a 3-14 record at Rupp Arena. Two of his teams that won there went on to win the national championship in 2006 and 2007. This is clearly the best Florida team since those two.

Those teams had school record 17 game win streaks in both of those seasons. A Gators win tonight would be their 17th in a row. Whoever made the schedule up, good job.

A Kentucky win would put them only one game back in the SEC race with still one more shot at Florida on March 8. It would also likely put the Cats back into the Top Ten and improve their seed in the NCAA Tournament. Other potential top seeds are likely hoping UK wins tonight. Right now the Wildcats are a projected number four seed. That would pit them against a number one in the Sweet Sixteen. There probably are no number ones who want to face Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. A win tonight could slide them up to a three or possibly even a two.

The battle in the paint tonight will be epic as the Gators front line of Patric Young, Wil Yeguete and Casey Prather go against the Kentucky front line of Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress. Young has the body of an NFL linebacker which means he is one of few players who can handle Randle. A “wild card” could be freshman Chris Walker for the Gators who is a long, fast but raw talent. If he can give them some good minutes tonight, he could be the difference.

Where the Gators would seem to have a definite advantage is in the back court where the talented but young Aaron and Andrew Harrison will have to deal with Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier. Wilbekin may be the best player on the floor tonight and Frazier is a guy who can knock down three or four three pointers in a row at any time. Then throw in talented freshman Kasey Hill and the Gators seem to have the advantage there.

But with that wild and rowdy crowd at Rupp, this game should be a toss up.

Sportsbook.com has the odds on tonight’s game. Kentucky is -1.5 -110  and Florida is +1.5 -110 ATS. Moneyline is Kentucky -130 and Florida +110. We will take Florida +110 in this one. Florida is just a little better than Kentucky.


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