Tonight is a rare non-conference road game, especially this early in the season as 20th ranked Wisconsin heads to Gainesville, FL to take on the 10th ranked Gators in a matchup that should give both squads a true test as to what they really are. Wisconsin meets the Gators for just the 3rd time in school history when they clash tonight. This game tips at 6pm Central and can be seen on ESPN2 and via watchESPN as well.
Florida is coming off an 84-35 victory against Alabama State in what was supposed to be their 2nd game of the season. However, their opening tilt was canceled after one half of play aboard an air craft carrier on Friday night in Jacksonville. All five Gators starters are upperclassmen, including three seniors in G Kenny Boynton, G Mike Rosario, and F Erik Murphy. Head Coach Billy Donovan is in his 17th season at the helm of the Florida program and has won two national titles as well as sporting a 387-158 (.710) record at Florida.
Leading the way for the Gators in their one victory was Kenny Boynton who scored 22 points to lead a quartet of double digit scorers that included fellow starters Erik Murphy (15), Mike Rosario (14), and Patric Young (12). Young led the way in the rebounding department pulling down 12 boards for a double-double against the Hornets on Sunday.
The Gators come into this game pretty banged up and could be without star forward Erik Murphy which would be a huge blow having to face the likes of Evans and Berggren that can score from just about anywhere.
Matchup of the Game
Kenny Boynton vs. Ben Brust - Florida goes as Boynton goes and he can be one of the most deadly 3 point shooters in the country. Brust is the Badgers best perimeter defender and isn't afraid to scrap and claw on the defensive end. Boynton hit 4-4 from deep in the Alabama State game and shot 40.7% from beyond the arc last season. If the Badgers are to control this game it's up to Brust to find a way to slow down Boynton and force him into bad shots and decisions, something that's easier said than done.
Keys to the Game
Wisconsin and Florida are polar opposites in how they play the game, Florida loves to press and get up and down the court while we all know the Badgers look to play solid half-court defense and work the shot clock on offense. So, the biggest key to this game is which team controls the tempo. After one game it's safe to say the Badgers have the athletic ability to play at a bit of a higher tempo, but they need to make sure they are making smart decisions if they go a bit faster tonight. Expecting them to play at the super slow tempo of last year isn't likely in this game, just by the sure nature of having to break a press.
That also brings me to the one of the other big keys to the game, turnovers. Wisconsin needs to be smart with the basketball against the pressure that Florida brings to the table and that means PG George Marshall and Traevon Jackson need to be on their game from the get go. Florida forced 19 turnovers last time out while the Badgers only committed 8 turnovers so that could be encouraging as well as the fact that the Gators have a propensity to turn the ball over themselves, doing so 12 times in the game against a bad Alabama State team.
Prediction: Florida 77, Wisconsin 73