2021 NCAA Tournament, Florida vs. Virginia Tech: Picks, predictions, live stream, TV channel, tipoff time

By Adam Silverstein
March 19, 2021
2021 NCAA Tournament, Florida vs. Virginia Tech: Picks, predictions, live stream, TV channel, tipoff time

Image Credit: Michael Nash

The rollercoaster that has been the 2020-21 college basketball season comes to a head for the Florida Gators on Friday as the program opens the 2021 NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed. That position is not where Florida expected to be at the start of the season, but given the obstacles it’s needed to overcome, the Gators should be relatively happy with their seeding, especially after losing three of their final four games.

Waiting for Florida on the hardwood is the No. 10 seed Virginia Tech Hokies, who have also dealt with significant ups and downs over the course of the campaign. The only consistent thing for these programs has been their inconsistency both in schedule and level of play.

Florida and Virginia Tech meet in a key South Region game. The winner will face either No. 2 seed Ohio State or No. 15 seed Oral Roberts in second-round action on Sunday. The Gators have advanced to the second round in seven straight appearances at this event.

What will go down on Friday as Florida looks to make a run in the NCAA Tournament starting with Virginia Tech? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

(7) Florida Gators(10) Virginia Tech Hokies
CoachMike WhiteMike Young

Projected starting five

PG: Tyree Appleby
G: Tre Mann
G/F: Noah Locke
F: Anthony Duruji
F/C: Colin Castleton

Statistical leaders

PPG: Tre Mann (16.0)
RPG: Colin Castleton (5.9)
APG: Tre Mann (3.4)
SPG: Tyree Appleby (1.5)
BPG: Colin Castleton (2.2)
FG%: Omar Payne (77.1%)
3P%: Noah Locke (40.6%)
FT% (min. 20 attempts): Tre Mann (84.9%)

Viewing information

Date: Friday, March 19 | Time: 12:15 p.m. ET
Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, Indiana

TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)
Live stream: March Madness Live | SiriusXM: n/a| Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 44-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament
» The Gators have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in seven straight appearances (2011-14, 2017-19). UF did not play in the event in 2015-16, and the tourney was not held in 2020.
» White is the first Florida coach to advance to the NCAA Tournament in four of his first five seasons; UF is 5-3 in the event under White but has not advanced past the second round since 2017.
» Florida is 4-5 all-time against Virginia Tech. The teams first met in 1961 and have not played since 1991.
» The Gators are one of nine teams nationally without a senior on the roster; however, they has four junior transfers on the team this season.
» Florida is 0-6 when scoring 68 points or less this season and 0-8 when shooting worse than 43% from the field
» The Gators are 10-3 when scoring 70+ points and 14-1 when shooting 44% or better from the field. They are 8-1 when allowing less than 70 points.
» Florida enters 3-1 in neutral-site games this season, but it is 0-1 all-time in Hinkle Fieldhouse, losing to Butler 76-62 last season.

Predictions and analysis

Spread: Florida +1 | O/U: 135

The Gators have been dreadful in March with a 1-3 record and two performances in which they were hardly competitive against a team they blew out earlier in the season. Both Florida and Virginia Tech have dealt with extended streaks of missed games; the Hokies have only played three since Feb. 6. Ken Pomeroy (KenPom.com) has the Gators ranked 12 spots higher and two full points better in adjusted efficiency, but they have been far less efficient as the season has progressed.

This is a tough game to pick, and a 7-10 upset is frequent in March Madness. Florida opened as a one-point favorite but quickly fell to a pick ’em and now sits as an underdog entering the game. These teams are indeed evenly matched, largely because neither is particularly good nor consistent.

However, the one thing the Gators have going for them is sophomore point guard Tre Mann, who has exploded over the last two months of the season and appears poised to be a first-round selection in the NBA Draft this summer. If there is one event where star power can take over, it’s the NCAA Tournament. We’ve seen it plenty over the years. With Mann as the key difference maker, Florida deserves your pick even if the margin is thin. Pick: Florida 72, Virginia Tech 69

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