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Know the Foe: Florida Gators

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This is a historic time for BYU basketball. For the first time in 30 years, since Danny Ainge was leading the way, the BYU Cougars are in the Sweet 16. We also have the best player in college basketball in Jimmer Fredette; who has surpassed Ainge as the all time leader in points at BYU. But instead of Notre Dame, we play the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16. A team we all know from last year's tournament. But this year they are older, better, and a much bigger threat.

Here's the Florida blog Alligator Army.

Who are the Florida Gators? Florida is the second best team in the SEC. (Yet they were somehow seeded above the team that clobbered them in the SEC championship game.) They have also been on a tear since the SEC championship game, routing UCSB by 28 and beating a very good UCLA team. That’s the same UCLA team who beat us by the way. I’m going off topic though.

Florida is a big team. Their starting front line reads, 6-10, 6-9, and 6-8 and they can bring in two more 6-9 bigs off the bench. Their rebounding numbers are pretty good while averaging 5.9 more boards than their opponents. All their big men that get more than 10 minutes per game shoot better than 48% from the field and all but two are better than 50%. But the main weakness of their starting forwards, you might as well flip a coin to find out if they hit their free throws. They are a combined 54.5% from the line.

Their guard play, on the other hand hasn’t been that stellar. The Gators starting back court, although leading the team in scoring, only shoot at 42% and 38% from the field. That’s pretty bad. And only one of them shoots it well from behind the arc.

As a team Florida is rather complete. They’re good on offense and defense, although better on defense. They shoot the ball pretty well-even if their bigs skew the numbers a bit-from inside as well as outside, at 46.5% and 35.7% respectively. And, most importantly, they can win.

Who should we watch out for? For starters let’s begin with, well, their starters. The most important player to watch out for on their team is 6-9 big man Chandler Parsons, who was the SEC player of the year. Although he doesn’t lead the team in scoring-in fact he’s third at 11.4 ppg-he does lead the Gators in rebounds and assists, at 7.8 and 3.5 a game. He shoots 49.2% from the field and 37.5% from three, which is a pretty remarkable feat. But his free throw shooting is terrible, where he shoots 55.8%.

The next big man to worry about is 6-10 center Vernon Macklin. He is third on the team in rebounds at 5.4 a game and fourth on the team in points, at 11.3 a game. He is extremely efficient around the basket, shooting an unthinkable 58.1% from the field. His free throw shooting is worse than Parsons though; he shoots 45.7% from the stripe. But he does clog the paint and play defense.

Now on to one of the players that will probably be asked to help defend Jimmer Fredette; Alex Tyus. Tyus, 6-8, can defend pretty well and is second on the team in rebounding at 5.7 rpg. He shoots 48.6% from the field, the lowest amongst the big men that get minutes and 62% from the line; which is the best among the starting big men. He has an occasional double-double and just gets the job done.

Florida’s starting backcourt consists of 5-8 Erving Walker and 6-2 Kenny Boynton. As I said above neither of them shoots the ball particularly well, but Walker can hit those outside shots. They are the best free throw shooters on the team, though, at 78.5% and 82.4% respectively. Their free throw rates are pretty good too, with Walker’s being pretty amazing. Walker has a free throw rate of 53.2 while Boynton’s rate is 28.6. For reference Jimmer’s rate is 37.3. Boynton is also the Gators best defender and is expected to defend Jimmer most of the night.

And finally there is Patric Young, the 6-9 forward/center of the bench. His numbers won’t blow anyone out of the water, 3.4 ppg and 3.8 rpg, but there’s a reason he averages more than 17 minutes per game. He’s an enforcer in the paint. He is very athletic and leads the team in blocks with .86 a game. In March his numbers have been up, with 4.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. Also his shooting percentage is amazing (like the rest of the big men) at 57%. He also shoots a respectable 72% from the line. He’s been turning it on for dance time averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds a game.

Other facts of note: I won’t mention last year’s tourney game because everyone knows about that so… As always the self proclaimed experts and tv pundits have to analyze and over analyze each and every game and team. Well, I guess it is their job, but they could do a better job with it. But back on point, almost all the "experts" are picking Florida to win, not to unexpected. The funny thing is, against Gonzaga they almost all picked Gonzaga to win. See a trend here? If this keeps up I hope they pick us to lose every game from now on. The computers think BYU is the better team though. BYU is ranked 5 in the RPI, 10 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, and 5 in Sagarin’s ratings. Florida, on the other hand is 8 in the RPI, 16 in Ken Pomeroy’s, and 15 in Sagarin’s ratings.