There are many similarities between 19th-ranked Florida and 13th ranked Kansas. Both teams are coming off buzzer beating losses into tonight’s game. The Gators and Jayhawks records are identical at 6-2. Both teams are considered national championship contenders this season. UF and KU matchup well against each other, but that’s where the similarities end. Florida comes in with a bevy of experience, starting four seniors, and having five players who have been three straight Elite 8’s. Kansas just keeps reloading, this time with one of the best talents in years, Andrew Wiggins. Freshman Joel Embiid and Wayne Seldin, as well as sophomore Perry Ellis fill out an extremely talented, yet young team. To give you an idea of talent, Wiggins and Embiid are both projected to go in the top three of the draft, with Wiggins possibly going number one overall.
Florida’s coming off of a heartbreaking loss at the then-12th-ranked Connecticut Huskies 65-64 on a Shabazz Napier put back at the buzzer. Casey Prather continued to put up his stellar numbers in the loss, scoring 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Patric Young also played very well, bucketing 17 and 7 boards. The Gators also lost point guard Scottie Wilbekin with 3:00 minutes to play to a high-ankle sprain, the same injury that PG Kasey Hill suffered earlier this season against Southern. But the week-long rest and rehab proved to be enough as both Wilbekin and Hill will play tonight. Add in guard/forward DeVon Walker, coming off an injury of his own, and Florida will be able to press all night. Tuesday’s game will be the closest thing to the lineup and roster we thought the Gators would have all season. And they have next Tuesday against Memphis to look forward to as well. That’s when McDonald’s All-American center Chris Walker will make his debut in orange and blue.
The Jayhawks are coming off a heartbreaking loss themselves at the Colorado Buffaloes 75-72 on a Askia Booker 30-foot three pointer as time expired. Andrew Wiggins lead Kansas with 22 points and notched 5 rebounds. The ‘Hawks also lost a close game to Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, 63-59. To beat KU, Florida will have to keep the Jayhawks hot shooting in check. Kansas comes into Tuesday’s game shooting 50.5%, good enough for 16th in the country. The Gators will also have to keep those super-talented young guys in check.
The Gators have a big game next week against No. 16 Memphis at the world’s most famous arena, but there is no way they look past tonight’s game against the Jayhawks. Games like these come to the O’Dome only once in a blue moon. Kansas invented basketball. Kansas leads the all-time series 3-1, and three-out-of-the-four meetings have come with both teams ranked in the top 10. All four meetings have had at least one team in the top 10. Tonight’s contest will be the first, however the matchup is between top 20 teams. Tonight’s game should be a good one and will be a must watch. It almost feels like March with no football season left. To tune in, the game starts at 7 pm on ESPN.