Before we get to this weekend’s picks, I was meaning to chime in on the hoops season that is now underway. After the Mississippi State debacle a couple of weeks ago, I dropped on Twitter that Florida is a basketball school anyway. This year, that’s an easy statement to back up. With so much talent returning, the Gators are a legit NCAA Tournament team and if things play out nicely, they could be a contender for a 1, 2 or 3 seed. They’ve already been instilled as the favorites in the SEC.
But I think those expectations right now are a little ridiculous. This is still a team that hasn’t won a NCAA Tournament game since our last national title in 2007. They made some strides last season and came within a Jimmer Fredette of maybe making a run in the tourney. But they still have to prove they can be consistent. A year older and wiser, all the key cogs should get there. But without proof, I’m tempering my expectations for now. I think a tourney berth is a lock barring some catastrophe, but I’m open for anything beyond that. One thing I do know, it is nice we are back in the national conversation.
The key player for the season could be Vernon Macklin. Macklin’s presence on the court gives the Gators a backline defender and a chance for easy scoring opportunities on offense. If he has learned to avoid fouls, he can push his numbers into the 13-8 (was 10-5 last year) range and really give the Gators the low post presence that is huge for success (see Al Horford and Joakim Noah). If he doesn’t, freshman Patric Young, a physical freak, could fill the void. A sleeper key is going to be Scottie Wibekin. The Gators are deeper than they’ve been since 2007 but most of it is in the frontcourt. Wibekin has to spell Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, especially early in the season. If Walker and Boynton are worn down come March, the Gators won’t dance for long.
Speaking of Horford and Noah, I stumbled upon a great read about the two former Gators. Horford just signed a big contract extension and coincidentally, it was almost the same deal Noah signed earlier this year. Both have become big-time players in the league. It has really been stunning to see the success Florida players have had the past five years. Along with David Lee, the Gators are sure to have a representative in many All-Star games going forward. Mike Miller, Matt Bonner, Udonis Haslem and Jason Williams have also established themselves as quality players. Corey Brewer and Marresse Speights are still trying to find their niche but both should stick in the NBA for many years as well. And surely at some point this season, Chris Richard and Anthony Roberson will ink 10-day contracts. Definitely the glory days for Gators in the NBA.
On to this week’s picks. You’ll recall Sonny and I have split. Last week, I got the better of him with a 3-2-1 to 2-3 mark. But it should be noted, we are 5-0 over the past two weeks on picks we agree on.
Boise State -21 – Are you kidding me with this line? Hawaii is OK but not nearly good enough to stay in this one. They have some big wins over terrible competition and that has them knocking on the top 25. Overrated.
Alabama -6.5 – Can’t see that weak LSU offense scoring enough to keep this one close.
Utah +5 – As has been the case all year, Utah gets no respect with this line. The Utes deserve to be in the conversation with TCU and Boise State. I think they make a statement at home.
Oregon -35 – Line can’t be high enough here.
Friday Night Special… UCF -2 – The Golden Knights are 6-1 vs the spread this year, 3-0 on the road. Houston is on their fourth QB this year.