Florida Gators basketball has struggled against the two ranked teams it faced this season and will be up against great odds Saturday when it takes on the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans on the road at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Here’s a look ahead at the game: what to know and how to watch Florida-Michigan State.
Location: Breslin Center – East Lansing, Michigan [Capacity: 14,759]
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|Florida Gators||No. 1 Michigan State Spartans|
|Head Coach: Mike White||Head Coach: Tom Izzo|
|Record: 6-2||Record: 10-0|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Big Ten|
Spread: +9.5 | O/U: 135.5
Despite flexing its collective muscle and routing three-straight lower-tier opponents in Vermont (by 24), Florida Gulf Coast (by 20) and Richmond (by 20), Florida continued its struggles against more talented teams when it got manhandled 66-55 by Miami on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Michigan State edged a pair of top-25 opponents in Kansas (by six) and Louisville (by four). No, the Spartans may not be the top-ranked team in the country for long, but they are undefeated for good reason – talent and coaching.
“You wish you had a month to prepare for them. They’re that good,” White said. “They’re good at everything. Michigan State doesn’t have a weakness. They’re as solid a team as you have in college basketball – as disciplined, as tough a team as there is in the country right now. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
This is another tough task for the Gators, which are playing their first ever nonconference regular-season game against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Forget the history – Florida is 2-0 all-time against nonconference No. 1-ranked teams (both victories in tournament play) – and remember what you’ve seen from the Gators over the first five weeks of the 2015-16 season. UF is young and inexperienced, struggles putting the ball in the basket, has issues getting points from the charity stripe and remains too sloppy on both ends of the court when faced with more talented opponents.
So what does Florida, which is ranked 100th nationally in adjusted offense, have going for it? Try being ranked third in adjusted defense, according to KenPom.com.
The Gators should continue to steadily improve this season and may very well put it all together in SEC play. But asking UF to suddenly do so against the No. 1 Spartans on the road in East Lansing is a tall task. Give me Michigan State to cover at home with the total falling under due to Florida’s solid defense.
ATS picks: 2-1 | O/U picks: 2-1
Injuries and absences
» Out (1): F Alex Murphy (foot)
» Florida is 2-13 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams, 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament and 0-13 against Kentucky in such situations.
» The Gators and Spartans are 3-3 all-time against each other. UF is 0-1 in East Lansing, and MSU holds the best victory in the series when it beat its opponent Saturday for the 2000 NCAA National Championship.
» Florida has only started two different starting fives this season after seemingly always switching its lineup due to performance and injuries during the 2014-15 campaign.
» The 2014-15 season was the first time since 2009-10 that the Gators lost consecutive nonconference games. Florida is looking to avoid doing so again after falling 66-55 to Miami on Tuesday.
» The Gators and Spartans will play three times in a four-year period. Michigan State will travel to Gainesville, Florida, in two seasons (2017-18), and the teams will meet as part of a four-team barnstorming event across the nation the following season (2018-19).
» Florida registered its first 100-point game in nearly four years during its second contest of the season.