Mar 18, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators head coach Bill Donovan gives out some instructions against the Norfolk State Spartans during the second half in the third round of the 2012 NCAA men

NCAA Tournament Preview: Florida Gators Vs. Marquette Golden Eagles - Mar. 21, 2012

The Florida Gators’ basketball team heads into the Sweet 16 with renewed hope and a fanbase feeling confident in the team’s chances against the Marquette Golden Eagles. After two big wins in the opening rounds of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the Gators march into the final 16 with a great opportunity to push this run even further.

The Facts

Opponent: Marquette Golden Eagles
When: Thu., Mar. 21, 2012 – 10:17 PM
Where: Phoenix, AZ
Broadcast: TBS, Sirius 93, XM 191
Records: Florida: 25-10, Marquette: 27-7
Seeds: Florida: 7, Marquette: 3
Current Streak: Florida: W2, Marquette: W2
Point Spread: Marquette -2
Over/Under: 147
Calculated Score: Marquette 74-73/75-72
Point Scored: Florida: 76.3, Marquette: 75.9
Points Allowed: Florida: 66.0, Marquette: 66.2

The Preview

The teams have similar records, they have approximately the same production on the offensive end of the court, and they allow an eerily similar amount of points. While neither had a noteworthy finish to their regular and conference tournament seasons, both have looked good in the Big Dance to get to this point.

Vegas thinks this will be the highest scoring of the four Thursday night games and they could be right. The Gators, for lack of a better way to put it, utterly destroyed their first two opponents and will look to do the same. While the Golden Eagles had a tougher fight in the third round against Murray State, they beat BYU by 20 in the second round. According their seeds, Marquette should be here and Florida shouldn’t, but another Gators’ win would hardly surprise at this point.

While Florida can have any number of different players lead the team offensively, Marquette relies heavily on Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. The two combined to score 79 of the Eagles 150 total points in their first two games and were the only members of the roster to average double digits this season. Amazingly, even when they aren’t putting up points, Marquette wins. Only four times this season did one of the duo not score at least 10 points. The Eagles were 3-1 in those games. Slowing Crowder and Johnson-Odom will help the Gators cause, but it might not turn the tide completely in Florida’s favor.

The Gators will need another solid performance from freshman Bradley Beal who has more than proved his worth so far in the tourney. Beal is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds. He has only taken 16 shots in two games, but is making smart decisions and shooting the ball well. He has become the glue with Will Yeguete only able to watch.

In addition to Beal, Florida will be served well by another good outing from Kenny Boynton. The junior guard had hit the slump of all slumps when it came to shooting in recent games, but he finally found his stroke again in the win over Norfolk State. Boynton only went 2-for-7 from behind the three-point line, but made all five of his other field goal attempts and led the Gators with 20 points.

Florida needs to perform at both ends of the court against Marquette. The Gators need to continue to push opponents to keep up with them on offense, but also hope they can stop the Eagles from actually doing just that. If they can stay active on both ends, Florida should remain in this game and can advance to the next round. Marquette is a good team deserving of their No. 3 seed, but Florida’s recent improvement shows the talent is there to compete.

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Tags: Bradley Beal Darius Johnson-Odom Florida Basketball Florida Gators Jae Crowder Kenny Boynton Marquette Golden Eagles NCAA Tournament Will Yeguete

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