If you've watched Florida on TV this season then you've certainly got an earful about them being short-handed. But what you likely haven't heard from those same announcers is that there are probably 340 Division I teams which would gladly trade their own troubles for those of the Gators. The Gators' bench has been thin at times - there is no doubting that - but the UF roster is also completely stacked. They have four consensus 5* recruits on the floor, and another three guys who are consensus top 100 recruits. Four teams in the nation have that many 5*s on the roster - Kentucky (ranked No. 1), Duke (No. 2), Arizona (No. 3), and Florida (unranked).
The Gators, somehow, are just 7-4, and their best win is at home versus Yale. Pomeroy has them ranked 15th, so it's clear that they should be expected to make a strong turnaround. Still, a loss to FSU (7-5) would be a bad stain on their tourney resume. And a win by FSU would be just what the doctor ordered for a young team lacking confidence.
The Gators are led by Michael Frazier, the sweet shooting junior who has attempted 75% of his career shots from beyond the arc, knocking down 44%. He leads the team at 14.7 points per game. He's joined in the back court by point guard Kasey Hill. Hill's motor and effort has been as inconsistent as his outside shot, but when he's dialed in he can dominate a game. Freshman Chris Chiozza provides plenty of help off the bench. Eli Carter, a Rutgers transfer, has missed games with a bad ankle and with strep throat.
On the front line, junior Dorian Finney-Smith is in double figures, scoring 12.7 per game. The 6-8 junior was the SEC 6th man of the year, and can do a bit of everything, including running the point in a pinch. He transferred from Virginia Tech. Fellow transfers Jon Horford (Michigan) and the newly eligible Alex Murphy (Duke) add more versatility to the front line, though the most intriguing players are younger. Chris Walker was a consensus top 10 recruit, but in his sophomore year he still has very little offensive skill. He's such a remarkable athlete though that he can hang out around the basket and put people on posters. At 6-10, he can also guard all five positions. Another 5* guy, freshman Devin Robinson, is more of a perimeter player. He takes half his shots from three even though he's only made 27%. But his skill set is very dynamic.
The Gators are currently a defensive team, ranked No. 7 in the nation on that end. As usual, they play at a crawl (318th tempo) so possessions will be at a premium. Donovan's pressure defense forces a ton of turnovers, so point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes will have to show better judgment than we've seen in recent games. The Noles will need to get to the rim and force the Gators into fouling.
Offensively, the Gators are just 56th. They've been held under a point per possession in five of eleven games. But FSU's porous defense shouldn't cause too many issues. Florida State will need to limit Frazier's touches, and to force the other Gators to settle for 3s. To pull the upset, FSU will need UF to lose the 3-point lottery.
The game tips at 7pm from the Tuck and will be broadcast on ESPN2. Pomeroy has UF as a 6-point favorite.