#3 seed BYU COUGARS (32-4)
vs. #2 seed FLORIDA GATORS (28-7)
NCAA Tournament – Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:27 p.m. EDT – New Orleans, LA
Line: Florida -3, Total: 149
Jimmer Fredette as a scorer has become like that un-hittable pitcher who continues to retire the opposing lineup in order. Batters come up, batters go down, one-two-three. In this case, the batters have been opposing team’s defenses. Brigham Young has surged to a 32-4 record this season, and outside of Creighton, Fresno Pacific, Mississippi Valley State and Hawaii, who held Fredette to 13,13, 16, and 16 points respectively (for the record, he only played 22 minutes against mighty Fresno Pacific), all of the other teams on the Cougars schedule have had to settle for containing Fredette the same way a bar legally serves patrons: 21 and over only. Besides those four games in the teens, Fredette’s lowest scoring game has been 21 points. His highest game: 52 points. His nation’s best scoring average is 28.8 PPG, with 12 games scoring in the 30’s, three games in the 40’s, and the 52-point night versus New Mexico. If he was a pitcher, that would be a lot of whiffs for the other team. Thursday night in the Louisiana Superdome, Florida is set to step up to the plate for a taste of Jimmer Mania, with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line, and while the approach of other teams may have been to bring a bigger bat into play, Florida has some prior experience to draw on what it hopes will make a difference. Vegas odds.
BYU actually defeated Florida in a first round game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, 99-92, in double overtime. While the Cougars got a gigantic boost from Michael Loyd, a sophomore guard at the time who scored 26 points off the bench, Fredette was still the headliner, as he shot 13-for-26, scoring 37 points, and hitting two key three-pointers in the second overtime to put the game away. Chandler Parsons remembers the performance well: “They’ve got a complete team. We had a taste playing against them last year and now we understand just how good they are. We don’t have to watch film to understand that. They’re strong and they execute.”
Florida advanced to this Sweet 16 matchup with a 73-65 victory over UCLA. Erving Walker scored 21 points in the contest, including a clutch three-pointer with 1:14 remaining to seal the deal against a courageous Bruins team. Florida held UCLA to 41.8% shooting from the floor, and more importantly, forced its opponent into a 3-for-13 night from beyond the arc (23%). The Gators will need to display that level of perimeter defense and then some against a BYU team that is shooting an impressive 36.5% from downtown, and whose star player is stroking the three-ball at a near 41% clip. Betting lines.
Brigham Young is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1981 following Saturday’s 89-67 defeat of Gonzaga. Fredette zigged his way thru the ’Zags defense en route to scoring 34, opening a few more eyes along the way. “He can shoot it from anywhere, as soon as he steps on the floor,” said Gonzaga’s Steven Gray, now on the long list of guards who couldn’t stop Fredette. “Believe it or not I thought we defended him OK,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. Fredette shot 7-for-12 from beyond the arc, and 11-for-23 overall. If Gonzaga was looking to hold the All-American to under 50% shooting: Mission Accomplished. As for Fredette and the team goals that he set for himself and his squad, Saturday’s victory was one more chore that they could check off the to-do list. After all, 30 years is a long time to wait to return to the Sweet 16. “It was very important,” Fredette said. “It was one of my goals coming into this season. I wanted to get to the second weekend and so did this team, so it’s extremely important.” A little more Jimmer-Mania in “The Big Easy” this weekend and the goal of advancing to the second weekend could be replaced by the dream of advancing to action on the first weekend in April. Florida will not make it easy on him. At 62.8 PPG, Florida has the 47th-rated defense in all of college basketball.
Although Florida is a pedestrian 16-14 ATS (53%) overall, it is 11-5 ATS (68.8%) in non-home games, including 5-2 ATS (71%) on a neutral court. The Cougars are 15-17 ATS (47%) overall, 3-6 ATS (33%) in neutral-site games and a horrific 2-12 ATS (14%) following an ATS win. The FoxSheets provide two more reasons to pick Florida to win and cover.
FLORIDA is 11-3 ATS (78.6%, +7.7 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record this season. The average score was FLORIDA 72.1, OPPONENT 65.0 – (Rating = 2*).
FLORIDA is 7-0 ATS (+7.0 Units) in road games after covering 3 of their last 4 against the spread over the last 2 seasons. The average score was FLORIDA 74.8, OPPONENT 63.4 – (Rating = 2*).
Nine of the past 10 games for the Gators have finished Over the total and this FoxSheets trend also predicts the Over will occur on Thursday. Sports scores.
FLORIDA is 10-2 OVER (83.3%, +7.8 Units) versus good shooting teams – making >=45% of their shots after 15+ games this season. The average score was FLORIDA 75.2, OPPONENT 67.3 – (Rating = 2*).