Florida vs. Tennessee Prediction: Will the Volunteers be Able to Stifle the Gators?

Florida vs. Tennessee prediction and pick for Wednesday night. College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for this SEC matchup between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers.
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Florida vs. Tennessee Prediction: Will the Volunteers be Able to Stifle the Gators?

The SEC is so deep and talented this year that a university like Auburn, typically known as a football school, has now ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll for the first time in school history. And while the Tennessee Volunteers have remained entrenched in the top 25 despite some hiccups in conference play, this feels like a more important game for the Florida Gators, who have struggled to a 12-7 start this season.

Will Tennessee take care of business on their home court and continue to prove they deserve to be mentioned among the conference’s elite? Or will Florida earn a much-needed NCAA tournament resume-building win? 

Here are our picks and predictions for the SEC matchup between Florida and Tennessee.

Click here for Florida vs. Tennessee odds

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Florida vs. Tennessee Prediction

Florida (12-7, 3-4) was dealt a huge blow last week when starting center Colin Castelton was ruled out with what was classified as a “significant” shoulder injury. The Gators won their first two games without Castelton, both home games against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. However, they missed his presence in a 16-point loss at Mississippi, as the Rebels shot a blistering 60% (21-for-35) from 2-point range without Castleton’s elite rim protection. Castleton averaged 15.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks before his injury, and the Gators do not have another forward on their roster averaging anywhere close to those numbers.

Tennessee (13-5, 4-3) is coming off their biggest conference victory of the season, a 64-50 home win over LSU. The Volunteers are a perfect 10-0 at home, including handing Arizona their only loss. Tennessee was blitzed for 107 points in a road loss to Kentucky 11 days ago, but that poor defensive performance was a complete anomaly compared to what we have been accustomed to from Rick Barnes’ team this year. The Volunteers have played seven other games against KenPom top 40 teams and have allowed an average of 67.9 PPG in those games against elite competition.

Florida will benefit from facing a man-to-man defense, as their zone offense like the one they needed against Mississippi on Monday is atrocious. However, without Castleton’s post presence, the Gators will have to knock down perimeter shots in this game to be competitive, and they have not shown an ability to do that all season.

The Gators rank 315th with a 29.7% 3-point shooting percentage. In addition, they have been abused on the backboards in big games, as they rank 264th in the country allowing opponents to secure 30.6% of their misses. 

With everything seemingly stacked against Florida, throw in the fact that they are on a quick turnaround, having played on Monday night as another reason they are fighting uphill in this contest. The Gators are just 1-3 ATS in four games against ranked opponents, while Tennessee has covered four of the six games in which they have had a rest advantage. The Volunteers are also a blistering 10-4 ATS when they are favorites, and we expect them to cover tonight against one of their biggest rivals.

Florida vs. Tennessee Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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