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NCAA Tournament Preview: #7 BYU vs. #10 Florida

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Florida Gators
  vs. BYU Cougars

Thursday, Mar 18, 2010, 9:20 AM PDT
NCAA Tournament - West Region - First Round - Ford Center - Oklahoma City, OK


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Most around the BYU camp has been mentioning that BYU has not won an NCAA tournament game since 1993, and are convinced this year is different. BYU currently is a 4.5 favorite over the Gators plus the Cougs were ranked in the top 25 all year while Florida was not.

The Gators finished with a 21-12 record out of the SEC and have lost four of their last five games.  Where as BYU set a regular season school record for wins with 29, but the Cougars lost in the semifinals in the Mountain West tournament.  Part of the reason was that super freshman Tyler Haws was out with a broken orbital that had his eye swollen shut, but he is expected to play and start against the Gators.  However, the key to BYU winning is Jimmer Fredette and Florida coach Billy Donovan knows that and said this about Jimmer:

"I don't think either (Kentucky's John Wall or South Carolina's Devan Downey) impacts the college game the way Fredette does. As much as I have great respect for Wall and Downey, those guys can't get 50 in a college game...they can't get to the free throw line 24 times in a game. To me, Fredette is one of the best-kept secrets in college basketball."

Pretty high praise from a coach with two national titles and played against both John Wall and Devan Downey in SEC conference play.  SB Nation's  Florida Gator site Alligator Army is deftly afraid of what Jimmer Fredette could do:

Florida has had a huge problem with defense this season, especially 3-point defense. Unfortunately for the Gators, BYU is tied for second nationally in 3-point percentage made. (42%)

BYU has several sharpshooters, but Public Enemy No. 1 has to be junior point guard Jimmer Fredette. Fredette is the type of player who can single handily take BYU to the Sweet 16. He is averaging 21.7ppg and shooting 45% from the 3-point line. Fredette makes South Carolina's Devan Downey look like the JV in terms of scoring.

BYU is the highest scoring team in the tournament and is the most efficient team in the tournament at 1.17 points per possession while Florida is at 1.07 but that puts them at 65th in the country.  That may not seem like a lot, but BYU averages 71 possessions per game and that difference in efficiency is seven points. So there is something to be said about how efficient a team is and not just using points per game.

Three key factors for Florida will be to attempt to slow down Jimmer Fredette, be more efficient on offense which can range from protecting the ball better to taking better shot selections, and defending the three point shot.

Florida does not have a single scorer, but rather a group of players that can score.  All five starters average in double figures and have a bench that goes eight deep.  Florida will need shoot the ball well to keep pace with BYU and they will need to defend the three point shot to stay close.

Florida is a more athletic team that BYU, but BYU is fast and does run and shoot the ball well it will be difficult for the Gators to take away both of those aspects.  Expect BYU to win this game and end their drought of not winning an NCAA tournament game since 1993.

Rank and Records FLA
RPI #54
Strength of Schedule #32
Overall 21-12
Conference 9-7
Home 14-4
Away 5-6
Top 25 2-5
RPI Top 50 1-8