Wisconsin Badgers versus Florida Gators Sweet Sixteen preview
Date: Friday, 24th March
Place: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
March madness odds:
Wisconsin +2 (-110) 131½ (-110) +115
Florida -2 (-110) 131½ (-110) -135
How they got here
Florida defeated Virginia 65-39 on Saturday to make it back to the Sweet 16 after a two years of absence. Devin Robinson had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Justin Leon added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Gators held the Cavaliers to a season-low 17 points in the first half and 29.6% overall shooting. UF closed the first half with a 12-0 run and had a 14-point advantage at halftime. The Badgers made damn sure there will be a new national champion at the end of the tournament. Wisconsin knocked out the not-for-long title-holders Villanova Wildcats 65-62. Nigel Hayes had 19 points and eight rebounds, Bronson Koenig added 17 points and Ethan Happ scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The Badgers will be making their fourth consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16.
This will mark the fifth encounter between these two programs. They split a couple of home-and-home series, with each team winning their home game, in 1967-68 and 1968-69, and then again in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Wisconsin won their most recent encounter 59-53.
Players to watch
Wisconsin sophomore forward Ethan Happ is averaging 13.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Meanwhile, Florida lead scorer KeVaughn Allen and SEC Sixth Man of the Year Canyon Barry both had understated performances against Virginia, so they may be due for more conspicuous roles on Friday.
March madness betting trends
The Badgers are coming off an upset, but the March madness odds of that happening are not necessarily good – Wisconsin is 1-4 straight-up and against the spread in the last five games as an underdog. On the other hand, the Badgers have won nine of their last 12 games against SEC teams. The Gators are 1-4 ATS in its last five games after covering a spread.
What to expect
The Gators kept Virginia to an embarrassing 39 points – which may very well be a literal and figurative new low. Another such performance by Florida’s defense could make the total on Friday go under.
This just in
According to official student organization of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Sconnie Sports Talk, Wisconsin’s keys to victory include the following: stay out foul trouble, make free-throws, feed Happ, keep TOs to a minimum, score from the inside-out, slow Devin Robinson down, scoring off the bench, not counting Allen and Barry out (see above), Nigel Hayes keeping up his consistent play and leadership, and Bronson Koenig hitting clutch shots.
The Gators have coasted through the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney, and with Duke and Villanova no longer in contention, the East regional final looks like an achievable goal. If that should turn out to be the case, Florida would be a strong march madness betting candidate against either Baylor or South Carolina.