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Tue, 14 Dec 2010 02:14 PM EST



Global Sports Invitational
Tip-off: Tuesday, 6:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Florida -1.5

How long has it been since Ohio State and Florida last played one another? Well the last time the two teams met, Florida was in the 2007 Championship game . . . versus Ohio State. Since then, the Gators have had more NIT berths than NCAA ones. As for the Buckeyes, Greg Oden was healthy enough to put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a losing effort on that championship night. Basketball odds.

Yes, it has been awhile.

Now after a couple of years that included its share of disappointment for both programs, the Gators and Buckeyes are back, both in the top-10, and will headline an intriguing early-season contest on a marathon day of college basketball.

Like in 2007, the buzz in the Ohio State program centers around a freshman center. Jared “Big Sully” Sullinger enters Ohio State as one of the top three freshmen in the nation. He has gained a great deal of attention for his wide body, soft hands, ball-handling skills and tenacity. Throw in senior Dallas Lauderdale up front (6.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG) and three returning upperclassmen who all averaged double figures in scoring last season (David Lighty, William Buford and Jon Diebler combined for 40 PPG) and you can understand why Buckeyes coach Thad Matta has visions of improving on his Sweet 16 showing of last season. Basketball spreads.

Billy Donovan has some firepower of his own. Donovan’s Gators returned all five starters (three of them seniors) to a team that went to the NCAA Tournament before losing a first round overtime heartbreaker to Brigham Young. All five of his starters averaged double figures, led by guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker (14.0 PPG & 12.6 PPG respectively). The front line of Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, and Chandler Parsons all averaged between 5.5 and 6.9 RPG. In addition, Donovan has added some much needed depth with incoming freshmen Scottie Wilbekin and McDonald’s All-American Patric Young.

It would be a treat if this game was simply a dress rehearsal for a rematch that would come in March, but for now the outcome will probably just settle two questions: how good the Gators still are, and how good the Buckeyes might be.

This highly-rated FoxSheets stat expects Florida to win Tuesday. Basketball lines.

Play On – A favorite (FLORIDA) – in a game involving two teams who had good records (60% to 80%) from last season, with all five starters returning from last year in the first 5 games of the season. (52-17 since 1997.) (75.4%, +33.3 units. Rating = 4*).

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