Florida vs. Virginia prediction and game preview, as the No. 4 Gators and No. 5 Cavaliers face off in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.
Neither Virginia nor Florida had an easy go of things during Thursday’s first round matchups. Nevertheless, both teams survived and have advanced for a chance to play in the Sweet 16.
A defensive-minded team, Virginia is essentially senior London Perrantes and a rotating cast of characters who could get hot at any given moment. Florida, on the other hand, is a long, lean team that operates in frenetic bursts of offense. Below is a prediction and game preview for the Gators and Cavaliers
Florida vs. Virginia Game Preview
Date: March 18
Venue: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Florida Wins If …
The Gators must get going early. Against East Tennessee State, Florida couldn’t buy a bucket in the early going, missing its first eight three-pointers before finding the bottom of the net. UVA is good at causing teams to suffer scoring droughts, so it’d be beneficial for the Gators to get going early.
Tempo, tempo, tempo. Florida must play its game. Force turnovers, get out into the break, and speed the game up. Virginia smothers teams – the Cavs held UNC to its lowest point total in the Roy Williams era earlier this year – so Florida needs to force the pace at every moment possible.
Virginia Wins If …
First off, the defense needs to get better. Yes, UNC Wilmington has a bunch of gunners. And yes, the final stats show the Seahawks shot only 41%. But that number is largely because of the first half. UNC Wilmington scoring 42 points in the second half was not in the playbook.
London Perrantes is the anchor, and he needs to stay hot, while Marial Shayok was a sparkplug off the bench for the second game in a row. If Kyle Guy can look more like the sniper who showed up against UNC near the end of conference season and Pitt in the ACC Tournament – as opposed to the guy who’s gone 1-for-3 in the past two games – Virginia will be dangerous.
UVA wins if Perrantes gets some help beyond the team’s normally solid defense.
Florida vs. Virginia Prediction
Florida is good, but inconsistent. In the swing of five minutes, the Gators can look like the best, and then the worst, team in the nation. The length and athleticism carried them through against ETSU, but against UVA there will be a balancing of the talent.
Because they don’t play a pretty brand of basketball, it’s difficult to get up for selecting the Virginia Cavaliers. Then again, aesthetics don’t win basketball games. The defense will always be there for UVA, it’s only a matter of whether anyone other than London Perrantes can score.
Ultimately, Virginia puts the clamps down on Florida early and forces a low-scoring game. The Gators score a flurry of points late in the second half to make it close, then go dry in final four minutes. A late three from Guy buries the Gators in front of a heavy pro-Florida crowd down in Orlando.
Florida vs. Virginia Score Prediction: Virginia 62, Florida 55