2013 Elite Eight Picks and Predictions: Michigan vs Florida Odds and Predictions – Free Elite 8 Picks 3/31/2013: If the first four rounds were any indication, then Sunday’s regional final between fourth-seeded Michigan and third-seeded Florida in the South Region of the NCAA Bracket should be very entertaining. After all, the Wolverines just needed a miracle 3-pointer to force overtime and get past a top-seeded Kansas team that nearly lost itself to 16th-seeded Western Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Gators had to rally from a double-digit deficit to finally put an end to the surprising run of 15th-seeded Florida Golf Coast University. Of course, the wild ride is going to end for one of these teams Sunday, and as they prepare for their third straight Elite Eight appearance, the Gators are 2 ½-point favorites.
Michigan’s resurgence as a program can be directly tied to its dynamic backcourt of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Specifically, Burke’s ability to score and distribute from the point guard spot has helped the Wolverines rank 27th in the country in scoring, ninth in field goal percentage and first in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Wolverines are at their best when they are flying up and down the court, taking advantage of their speed, athleticism and perimeter firepower. On the flip side, an average defense and the smaller, young frontcourt of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III has caused Michigan to struggle at times with bigger teams and teams that crash the offensive glass. That being said, the Wolverines are rarely completely out of a game thanks to the playmaking ability of Burke, and this team only lost one game by double figures all season.
Despite dealing with some injuries throughout the year, the Gators efficiency on offense and focus on defense has carried them back to the Elite Eight. While Patric Young and Erik Murphy provide a dynamic combination of size, muscle and perimeter shooting in the frontcourt, it is the passing ability and decision making of Florida’s backcourt trio of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin that is most responsible for the team ranking eighth in the country in field goal percentage. Meanwhile, a defense that allows less than 54 points per game keeps the Gators in the mix even when their shots aren’t falling. Case in point, six of Florida’s seven losses this year have come by six points or less. Plain and simple, the Gators can be dominant when they are clicking on both ends of the court and a tough out even when they’re not.
The Wolverines Win If:
Controlling the pace of Sunday’s game will be crucial for the Wolverines. Specifically, Michigan needs to speed up the tempo and keep this game from becoming a half-court affair in order to avoid dealing with Florida’s pressure defense on the perimeter and to neutralize the size advantage Florida has in the paint. The Wolverines also need to keep Florida from living on the offensive glass, but more importantly, they need to keep the Gators’ guards out of the paint in order to limit the open looks Florida gets from beyond the arc. Overall, the Wolverines can win the game if they make it a battle of which offense can score more rather than a battle of which defense can make the most stops.
The Gators Win If:
It all starts with controlling Michigan’s guards, and if Florida’s perimeter defenders can wear down Burke and company, the Gators are going to be in great shape. Meanwhile, Florida’s guards also need to play disciplined on the offensive end, limiting turnovers and getting quality shots in order to prevent the Wolverines from getting transition scoring chances. Perhaps most importantly, the Gators need to make sure that they don’t get caught up in trying to keep pace with Michigan. Yes, both teams have plenty of perimeter firepower, but Florida also has a stingy defense and size inside. If the Gators play to their strengths and control the paint and the boards and remain patient on offense, their overall balance should carry them to the Final Four.
In the end, Florida’s balance on both ends of the court is going to cause some issues for the Wolverines. For one, the Gators’ speedy perimeter defenders match up well with Michigan’s high-scoring backcourt. Meanwhile, Murphy and Young give the Gators a big edge in size and experience in the frontcourt, and more importantly, Murphy’s ability to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting will allow Young to get plenty of one-on-one looks in the post. Although the Wolverines eventually overcame their size disadvantage against Kansas, the holes in Michigan’s defense were obvious. Against a Florida team with a lot more offensive firepower than the Jayhawks, Burke and company are going to have a tough time pulling off another miracle.
Prediction: Florida Gators (-2 ½) Cover the Spread
Michigan vs Florida
Line: Florida -2.5
Time: 2:20 PM EST on CBS
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