Florida vs. Florida State picks, predictions, basketball tipoff time, watch live stream, TV channel

By Jake Winderman
December 11, 2020
Florida vs. Florida State picks, predictions, basketball tipoff time, watch live stream, TV channel

Image Credit: Michael Nash

Florida Gators basketball will face its biggest challenge of the still-young 2020-21 season Saturday as it faces the No. 20 Florida State Seminoles on the road. In the ‘Noles, the Gators get much more than just another in-state rivalry game. Florida finally gets its first chance to play a ranked opponent after its tilt with No. 18 Virginia at Mohegan Sun was canceled. UF will also get a barometer of how it fares against a taller, more physical team with a potential lottery pick on their roster in Scottie Barnes.

Florida State will also face a new challenge early in its 2020-21 campaign. The ‘Noles have faced two teams so far in Indiana and North Florida that like to slow down the pace of the game and play more in the halfcourt. FSU will have to figure out how to defend a team that likes to play with pace on offense and is more than happy to get out in transition off of a missed shot.

What will go down on Saturday as Florida faces Florida State? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

Florida GatorsNo. 20 Florida State
CoachMike WhiteLeonard Hamilton

Projected starting five

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

Statistical leaders

PPG: Keyontae Johnson (19.7)
RPG: Keyontae Johnson (6.0)
APG: Tre Mann (4.0)
SPG: Tyree Appleby (2.3)
BPG: Omar Payne (1.7)
FG% (min. 15 attempts): Keyontae Johnson (63.9%)
3P%: Tre Mann (62.5%)
FT% (min. 10 attempts): Tre Mann (84.6%)

Injuries and absences

There are no Gators on the injury report for Saturday’s game at the Seminoles. COVID-19 related absences will be announced before tipoff.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Dec. 12 | Time: 11 a.m. ET
Location: Donald L. Tucker Center — Tallahassee, Florida

TV: ESPNU (Sam Gore, Chris Spatola)
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: n/a| Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 43-28 all-time against Florida State; however, the Seminoles have won six straight meetings in the series, tying the Gators (1998-2004) for the longest streak by either team since UF won seven in a row when they met twice per year from 1965-68.
» The Gators are 4-9 against ACC teams under White and enter this game with consecutive victories against the league for the first time in his tenure. White is 0-5 against the Noles.
» UF is 3-7 under White in nonconference road games.
» 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 96-37 (.721) against unranked opponents. They are 1-10 against top five teams.
» Florida is 17-1 when scoring 90+ points, 50-3 when scoring 80+ points, 91-20 when scoring 70+ points but just 20-44 when scoring 69 points or fewer.

Predictions and analysis

Spread: not yet available | O/U: not yet available

Florida State is a different animal than Florida has faced yet this season. The Seminoles have an extremely deep roster, as they usually do under Hamilton, with more size than the Gators will have to deal with the rest of the season. Ten different FSU players are seeing at least 10 minutes of action per game, and its roster grades as the tallest in all of college basketball. Where the Noles make the most of their size and length is on the offensive glass. Florida State has not been a particularly good offensive team this year, ranking 210th in the NCAA in effective field goal percentage (46.4%). However, FSU has been able to stay in the top 35 in adjustive offensive efficiency nationally because of its work on the glass. It has the third-highest offensive rebound percentage in Division I (42.9%), too. Despite ranking dead-least in the ACC in field goal percentage (41%), 229th in the NCAA in two-point percentage (44.2%) and 256th in the country in free throw percentage (61.9%), Florida State has been able to average 74 points per game in regulation because of its ability to dominate opponents above the rim.

Along with its success on the offensive boards, Florida State has made its money this year, as it has over the past decade, on the defensive end with three players averaging at least two steals per game. Where Florida can exploit Florida State’s defensive weakness is from beyond the arc. The Seminoles are ranked 199th in opponent three-point percentage, allowing Indiana and North Florida to make a combined 35.7%. The Gators have done a solid job hitting their shots from long-range this season, converting at a 36.4% clip, 77th in the NCAA.

Florida’s toughest defensive assignment will b star freshman Scottie Barnes, who hit the Florida State’s game-winning, overtime bucket against Indiana. The versatile 6-foot-9 point guard simply does it all for the Seminoles as he’s averaging 8.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals per game this season. The Gators will more than likely throw multiple defenders at him. Junior forward RaiQuan Gray is the FSU’s leader in steals (2.5) and rebounds (7), while sophomore center Balsa Koprivica can feast in the interior at 7-foot-1 with a plus wingspan. He’s posting 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field.

The Gators have shown impressive balance on both ends of the floor this season, and their markedly faster offensive pace from a season ago has done wonders. Florida is currently ranked 20th in the NCAA in average offensive possession length and sit at 22nd in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. The last time it ranked in the top 25 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency was 2017, when the team made an Elite Eight run.

Florida’s starting lineup features four double-digit scorers in sophomore guard Scottie Lewis (10.7), junior G Noah Locke (11.3), sophomore point guard Tre Mann (15.3) and junior forward Keyontae Johnson (19.7). The Gators also have four players shooting above 47% from beyond the arc this season in Locke (47.1%), sophomore PG Ques Glover (50%), Johnson (50%) and Mann (62.5%).

Defensively, they rank 18th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Florida is forcing turnovers on 26.8% of opponent’s possessions, good for 13th in the NCAA, and allowing an effective field goal percentage of just 41.9% (26th nationally). UF’s extremely stout interior defense is allowing opponents to score at just a 38.2% clip from two-point range. Under White, Florida’s defense has ranked in the top 25 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency in five of his six seasons.

Simply put, beating Florida State will come down to two things. Florida must continue hitting three-pointers at a high clip and limit FSU’s second-chance scoring opportunities. The Gators are giving up 10 offensive boards per game, which is a good target to shoot for against a Seminoles team that is averaging 16 offensive rebounds per contest. I like Florida to pull off the upset against Florida State, its first in the series since 2013 and first at FSU since 2012. My bold prediction for this one is that UF shoots 38% or better from beyond the arc. Pick: Florida 74, Florida State 71

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

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