Florida basketball picks, predictions, Bubbleville tipoff times, watch live stream, TV channel

By Jake Winderman
December 2, 2020
Florida basketball picks, predictions, Bubbleville tipoff times, watch live stream, TV channel

Image Credit: @GatorsMBK / Twitter

The longest offseason in Florida Gators men’s basketball history is finally over. Wednesday, Dec. 2 will mark 270 days since UF’s 2019-20 season came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida will take the court this week in back-to-back games at the Mohegan Sun’s Bubbleville. It will start its season Wednesday afternoon against Army West Point before wrapping up with Boston College on Thursday night.

Wednesday’s tilt with Army will also mark the start of head coach Mike White’s sixth season with the Gators. White is 108-65 and has led UF to the NCAA Tournament in four of his five completed seasons. He has a 5-3 record in that event. White is the second-fastest coach to 100 wins in program history, behind none other than Billy Donovan, of course.

What will go down this week in Bubbleville as Florida faces Army West Point and Boston College? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

Florida GatorsArmy West PointBoston College
CoachMike WhiteJimmy AllenJim Christian

Projected starting five

PG: Tre Mann
SG: Noah Locke
G/F: Scottie Lewis
F: Keyontae Johnson
F/C: Colin Castleton

Injuries and absences

Out (1): Osayi Osifo (COVID-19 quarantine)

Viewing information

Game: Florida vs. Army West Point
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 2 | Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2 (Kevin Brown, Jon Crispin)

Game: Florida vs. Boston College
Date: Thursday, Dec. 3 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN (Jon Sciambi, Jon Crispin)

Location: Bubbleville (Mohegan Sun) — Uncasville, Connecticut
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: n/a| Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 1-0 all-time vs. Army with the programs’ only meeting in 1971. UF is 8-1 against teams from the Patriot League with its last game against Navy in 2015 and 5-1 all-time against service academies.
» Florida is 2-0 all-time against Boston College with both meetings in 1994 — an NCAA Tournament game followed by a neutral site contest. It won both games by double digits.
» The Gators are opening a campaign away from home for the fourth straight season. They have already had three games canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
» Florida is one of nine teams nationally without a senior on the roster; however, it has four junior transfers on the team this season.
» UF is one of 12 major conference teams and two SEC teams without a losing record in league play over the last five seasons.
» The Gators are 15-28 (.349) against ranked teams and 93-37 (.715) against unranked opponents. They are 1-10 against top five teams.
» Florida is 48-3 when scoring 80+ points and 88-20 when scoring 70+ points. It is 20-44 when scoring 69 points or fewer.

Predictions and analysis

Spread: n/a | O/U: n/a

Army only returns two starters from last season, but its offense has not had many problems clicking early in the 2020-21 campaign. The Black Knights currently rank 22nd nationally in effective field goal percentage (.599) and ninth in two-point percentage (.651). They’re also shooting 35.8% from downtown and have scored at least 78 points in each of their first three games. The offense is led by one of Army’s two returning starters, senior Lonnie Grayson, who has posted a team-leading 14 points per game to start the season for West Point.

Defensively, the Black Knights have struggled to generate turnovers but are doing an exceptional job at containing opponents from deep. Army has held Buffalo, Central Connecticut and the US Merchant Marine Academy to a combined 19% shooting from beyond the arc this season. While the Gators would like to showcase junior guard Noah Locke, sophomore point guard Tre Mann and junior forward Keyontae Johnson’s shooting early on, their best bet offensively will be to attack closeouts on the perimeter and generate chances inside the paint.

Wednesday’s game vs. Army will be Florida’s first chance to showcase its new high-octane offense and positionless defense. The Black Knights were able to steal a win vs. Buffalo on Saturday, but I don’t think they’ll be able to produce the same result against the Gators. Florida wins 78-62.

Boston College will present Florida with its first shot at a Power Five opponent this season. The Eagles put up 93 points in their most recent loss against St. John’s and have been an effective shooting team from all levels of the floor this season. BC ranks 49th in the nation in effective field goal percentage (.558) and is knocking down 34.2% of its shots from beyond the arc this season, good for 91st in the NCAA. Junior guard Wynston Tabbs, who leads the Eagles in scoring with 16.7 points per game, will be the Gators’ primary focus on defense. Tabbs put up 23 points, going 8 of 15 from the field in Boston College’s loss to St. John’s.

Boston College has also done a good job containing opponents from downtown. The Eagles are allowing opposing teams to shoot just 29.1% from three, good for 86th in the NCAA. Where Boston College has struggled is stopping teams from doing the dirty work inside and getting buckets in the interior. Opponents have shot 58.5% inside the arc against it this season and have taken advantage of the Eagles’ height as a team. BC has just one player taller than 6-foot-8 in forward Luka Kraljevic, and he’s played just 6 total minutes. The Gators can exploit the Eagles’ lack of size in pick-and-roll opportunities with sophomore F Omar Payne, sophomore center Jason Jitoboh, junior F Colin Castleton and junior F Anthony Duruji.

Thursday’s duel with Boston College should be a bit tighter than Wednesday’s game. The Eagles pulled off a five-point win against Rhode Island on Thanksgiving and were able to keep it close against No. 12 Villanova and St. John’s, losing both games by single digits. Florida wins 73-65.

2020-21 records: ATS picks 0-0 | O/U picks 0-0 | Overall: 0-0

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