May. 30, 2016
After knocking off Virginia Tech, East Tennessee State, Virginia and Villanova, the Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Gators have made it to the Sweet 16. This is Wisconsin's fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, the last time they didn't make it Sam Dekker was just a freshman and Frank Kaminsky was not yet Frank the Tank, when they lost to the Marshall Henderson-led Ole Miss Rebels. Meanwhile, Florida has been going through a transitional period in that time, especially after longtime head coach Billy Donovan left for the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to last season. Both teams being here at this point is a remarkable achievement on both ends.
In a weekend when all four four seeds made the Sweet 16, I'm not going to lie I had Florida being bounced in the first round. I clearly have underestimated the Gators this entire season, and they've done this even without big man John Egbunu. Virginia scored 39 points last night en route to losing to the Gators, and while a bit of that resembles Virginia's offense, it also shows that Florida can play defense too. It's also a bit frightening as a Badger fan to see that, since we have a lot of similarities with Virginia on both ends of the floor.
Now, I don't think we will be as bad as Virginia was last night, partially because we have three players who are more talented than the star of Virginia, guard London Perrantes. We also have a lot more experience than the Cavaliers, as Perrantes is the only senior on that team that plays a significant amount of minutes. Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ would all be starters on most teams in the country, and they have been to the Sweet 16 together before.
Florida is an eight-deep team, with the potential to use as many as 11 players despite the loss of junior big man John Egbunu. Florida is also 60th in both offense and defense, something that the Badgers don't have. Seven players score at least six points per game, led by sophomore KeVaughn Allen. Junior Devin Robinson, a former five-star recruit, is another player we need to keep track of. Half of Florida's losses are to top 15 opponents, and three more of them are to Vanderbilt. They've also lost a road game at South Carolina, which is the worst loss according to RPI. Beating Virginia is the second best win they have probably, but this is still a capable bunch.
Hopefully we don't get too "high" off of the win over Villanova, and we can regroup our focus on the opponent at hand. We have better offense and slightly worse defense than Virginia, so this won't lead into the same result. I'm back to believing this team can make another Final Four run, and possibly further, but nothing is easy from here. I'm going with a seven point win about heading toward the Elite 8.