DEATH FROM ABOVE! FLORIDA!

Submitted by Brian on March 31st, 2013 at 12:08 AM

derbyspencer_large[1]THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan vs Florida
WHERE Jerryworld
Dallas-ish, Texas
WHEN 2:20 PM Eastern, Sunday
LINE Florida -5 (Kenpom)
TV CBS

The Gators' mascot in its natural habitat, a horse track, drinking the blood of its only prey: bourbon.

THE TEMPO-FREE

Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.

eFG% Turnover % Off. Reb. % FTA/FGA
Offense 55.6 (6) 17.7 (47) 34.4 (83) 31.1 (294)
Defense 42.9 (6) 22.6 (41) 28.5 (53) 30.2 (54)

Florida is at least good at everything except getting to the line, which they don't do much largely because they bomb away from three (40% of their shots). This is not a disadvantage since they hit 38% from deep. They are great at both eFG offense and eFG defense.

Add the above up and that's the #5 offense, #2 defense, and runaway Kenpom #1 team.

THE THEM

Florida is powerful because they get contributions from every spot on the roster. No Gator has a usage rate higher than 23, and they go seven deep in guys with 18+ (20 is average). At one point in the year three or four Gators—I forget exactly how many—were in the Kenpom Player of the Year top ten. They were all at the bottom of the top ten and there is a team adjustment in there, but holy hot damn all the same.

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ha ha wisconsin

If there is a go-to guy it's senior post Erik Murphy, who shoots 78/61/46. That 46 is no fluke—his shots are evenly split between twos and threes. Part of what makes Florida brutal to defend is Murphy pulling opponent posts to the perimeter and letting the 250-pound Patric Young make roaring noises on the interior. But anyway: Murphy. A 6'10" guy shooting threes has a top ten TS%. He doesn't turn it over much and his rebound rates are pretty good for a guy who's often on the perimeter on offense. His weakness, such as it is, is a slight predilection for foul trouble.

The aforementioned Patric Young—Murphy stole his K—is a slab of angry muscle who boards on both ends and has a post game to go with his assorted posterizings of opponents. That game consists of an assortment of baby hooks around the basket—he's not a shooter. But if you're sick of blocks coming from nowhere, don't watch this game.

Young shoots 59% from the floor; his prime weakness is 49% FT shooting. Possibly as a result he gets to the line a ton. In most cases if you have the option to foul Young as he's shooting, you should take the opportunity.

You can see the problem, I imagine. No matter who Michigan puts GRIII on it's a mismatch. He's 20 or 30 pounds lighter than either guy, a few inches shorter, and a few years younger. If I'm picking my poison I would go with Murphy, who seems like less of an OREB monster and will have to abandon his 46% three point shooting to exploit the matchup. I'm not happy about it either way.

The men who are not large are all kind of the same. They're upperclassmen around 6'2" who are about evenly split between twos and split the usage fairly evenly. They shoot a bit over 50% from two and around 35% from three; they don't get to the line much. Point guard #5 Scottie Wilbekin has a higher assist rate and a higher TO rate than the other two guys; he's only an okay FT shooter (71%) instead of very good like the other two. Senior #1 Kenny Boyton is the most three-heavy (218) attempts but has fallen off considerably from the 40% rate he hit last year. He's now idling at 32%. Senior #3 Mike Rosario has the best 3PT% at 38%.

November 29, 2012; Gainesville, FL, USA;Florida Gators guard/forward Casey Prather (24) reacts after he made a shot against the Marquette Golden Eagles  during the first half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports141734665.0_standard_352.0[1]

what's with the tongue casey

Florida is another bench-shy team. They go eight deep. You may remember #24 Casey Prather from Michigan's unsuccessful attempt to recruit him; he's Florida's designated shutdown wing defender. As the only guy on the roster with the size and quicks to take on Stauskas and Hardaway, he might get more than his 15 or so minutes in this one. On offense he's a high-flier who throws down a ton and has an outlandish 80% eFG on shots at the rim. He's not bad from range, either. He's hitting 65% of his shots, has a double-digit OREB rate, and fills up the stat sheet with steals and blocks. He fouls a bit too much and can't shoot free throws but he's a quality option. This time Beilein's eye for talent isn't helping.

6'7" Will Yeguette is the main post backup; don't be fooled by the height. He checks in at a burly 240 pounds and has an extremely good 12/22 rebound rate, plus plenty of steals. He is another defensive ace off the bench:

When he was healthy, he was making immense contributions to the Gators' defense -- as a long-armed trapper/interceptor in the press (with a team-high 3.3 steal percentage); a great backline defender in the 2-3 zone; and the team's best defensive rebounder (with a 22.9 percent DReb rate). As coach Billy Donovan told the Orlando Sentinel, "Any time you lose a guy like Will Yeguete your defense is going to be different. Will adds a different dimension down there in terms of covering up a lot of things."

He's one of those long-armed, bouncy not-quite-a-fours who can plausibly guard four positions.

Shooting guard #20 Michael Frazier is a corner gunner. 80% of his attempts are from three; he hits at 47%. He turns the ball over a lot for a corner gunner and has a weirdly huge DREB rate, but mostly he's just that guy who nails open threes.

You know something weird? This is a John Beilein team.

THE RESUME

The good: Florida is not clutch, having lost all six games they've played in which the winning margin was in single digits. The bad: clutch probably doesn't exist and the Gators are 29-7, meaning they've won 29 blowouts this season and lost one. Scoring lots of points and not allowing your opponents to score any is a good way to find yourself at the top of tempo-free leaderboards.

However, it's hard to get a grip on just how good Florida is for the same reasons it was hard to figure out Pitt, which was rampant against any bad team and middling at best against the rest. That added up to a top-ten Kenpom ranking, an eight seed, and a not particularly competitive first round exit against Wichita State. Wichita State is in the Final Four now, but still.

In the nonconference section of Florida's schedule they laid waste to the state of Wisconsin, winning by 18 against the Badgers and 33(!) against the Golden Eagles. They blew out tourney at-large Middle Tennessee State, too. On the down side of the ledger: a one-point loss at Arizona and six-point loss to Kansas State at the Phone Company Center in Kansas City (so pretty much an away game).

Once SEC play hit, Florida busted out its flamethrower and looked to be on their way to an unprecedented domination of a mid-major league* until Arkansas caught fire in the first half and ended up winning by 11. This was in Arkansas, obviously. Arkansas outside of Arkansas is Grambling.

Florida recovered from this to bomb a few more SEC foes before losing at Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky to to finish 14-4. They went down to Ole Miss in the SEC championship game.

In the tourney, they blew out 14-seed Northwestern State, pretty much blew out 11-seed Minnesota, and controlled Florida Gulf Subs University after a shaky start. That Minnesota win brings their record against common opponents with Michigan to 3-2, with wins over Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Minnesota and losses to Arkansas and K-State. Michigan was 3-2 against the same teams, with both losses to Wisconsin.

*[HA!]

THE PROTIPS

To be perfectly blunt, watch Florida have an off shooting night from three. You know they're going to go up, and they're going to go up in spades. Michigan doesn't really have much control over whether the go down or not, both because threes are a lottery and Michigan doesn't close out too well. In general the variance that a three-heavy offense brings is detrimental to deep tourney runs, as one off game condemns you. Michigan found that out last year. Winnchart:

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This was a bit earlier in the season when Winn was guessing the Gators would grab a one. They ended up with a three and have already exceeded expected performance, albeit by beating a 14, an 11, and a 15.

Michigan does have a shot of matching them three for three, so there's that. Let's go dome?

Run effectively off long rebounds. With a bunch of long shots come a bunch of long rebounds and the resulting runouts that fuel Michigan's high-powered transition offense. That's the theory, anyway. Michigan and Florida see an identical 12% of opponent shots in the first ten seconds after an opponent rebound.

Win the boards. Is this likely? Oh hell no. But I would have told you the same thing before the Kansas game and thanks to Mitch McGary and Trey Burke drawing huge amounts of defensive attention, Michigan outrebounded Kansas by a whopping 50%. (IE: their OREB rate was 33% and Kansas's was 22%.) Mitch McGary playing 35 minutes is a wildcard unaccounted for in the Kenpom numbers.

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Mitch McGary: continue being a low-foul rebound vacuum shooting 80% from the field. No problem. I heard that Patric Young said McGary was literally a fetus.

Seriously though, Michigan doesn't win their last game without McGary making up for some defensive issues with a crushingly effective offensive and possession-generation game. He doesn't have to do quite the same thing against

Tim Hardaway and/or Nik Stauskas: go off. At all times one or the other will be able to shoot over their man, who will be four inches shorter. For a good chunk of the game, both of them will. Possibly all of the game if Billy Donovan elects to put Casey Prather on Burke. If one of those guys can come up with a game in which you think the shot is down before it even leaves the guy's hand, the path to victory becomes much clearer. I don't think Michigan gets this one without one of the two wings lighting it up.

Hope Florida is a Pitt-like product in which weak competition is blown out of the gym but reasonable folks are competitive. The Wisconsin and Marquette games are not great arguments here. But Florida has lost to K-State and Arkansas. They're more human than the number suggest.

Trey!!!! Do I hear double-digit exclamation points? Triple?

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Florida by five.

Comments

jmblue

March 31st, 2013 at 12:33 AM ^

I know the concept of "clutch" is the bane of stats guys everywhere, but I have to think there's something to that 0-6 mark in close games.  That's an unbelievable mark for a team that otherwise is really, really good.  One would assume that an average team wins about half its close games, and an above-average team more than half, because late-game situations often result in a lot of improvisation where talent wins out.  It's really weird to me that a 29-win team would never win a close game.

Anyone know the story there?  Does UF have no go-to guy?  Does Donovan over-coach in the final minutes?  Does everyone just foul the 49% guy?

 

 

 

 

Needs

March 31st, 2013 at 1:41 AM ^

I think it is a case of no real go to guy and a little bit of doubt. I generally agree with the stat guys about clutch ness, but it's not just this year. They've gone out of the NCAAs two years in a row by not being able to finish tight games at the wire. At some point, a lack of success at the end of games does start to create self doubt. It happened a lot to the Heat in LeBron's first year there and I think it has here a bit too. The challenge of course is to get them in a close game.

ryebreadboy

March 31st, 2013 at 12:36 AM ^

I think we have a good shot in this one. The guys have been playing lights-out, and I honestly thought Kansas was a tougher matchup. This is a winnable game. Let's get out there and do it!

bronxblue

March 31st, 2013 at 12:37 AM ^

Florida is definitely a tough team, but I'm not as impressed by those early-season wins as others apparently are.  Wiscy was their second game of the season, and the Badgers were still learning how to be the annoying B1G team they became.  And this is still the Florida team that limped to the finish line a bit against the likes of Ole Miss, Kentucky, etc.  They are very dangerous, but I've not seen anything the past couple of weeks that makes me think they are as dominant as Kenpom thinks they are.  And yes, Kenpom was the only guy who seemed to think UM was going to be Kansas, but he also thought OSU would be able to sleepwalk to the FF and they looked near-death at every stage until finally falling.  

As for the defensive matchups, and maybe this is the long season talking, but UM should be fine with Florida's bigs (who really are not any more impressive than guys at MSU, OSU, Minny, IU, etc.), and so they will rely, as always, on keeping the perimeter guys within reasonable range.  I could definitely see the Gators going insanely hot from outside and running UM off the court, but I can also see them flounder a bit and letting UM stick around.  And unlike UM, I don't know if they have a "closer" for the last shot.  I've seen Rosario take shots at end of games, but that feels like more a product of his seniority than some innate Burke-ness.

Should be a fun game.  Probably will be another nail-biter, but if UM can somehow get by them I'm liking their chances against Syracuse.

gwkrlghl

March 31st, 2013 at 12:45 AM ^

Florida's only played 14, 11, and 15 seeds to this point? I'm literally not sure if it's possible to have your path to the elite 8 be seeded any lower

Edit: I suppose we could've gotten a theoretical 13, 12, 16 roadmap, but given that a 16 has never beaten a 1, I'm going to say Florida's road to the Elite 8 statistically could not have been easier. Plus, the SEC sucks so all those sexy blowouts of Vanderbilt and Georgia will have to be taken with a grain of salt

Perkis-Size Me

March 31st, 2013 at 12:52 AM ^

I don't want to discredit Florida, as I know its a good team with a great coach, but I do wonder how much their record and overall performance in the tournament this year is affected by who they've played. Its not like SEC basketball is full of great teams, or even good teams for that matter. It's usually Florida, Kentucky (minus this year) and that's about it. And they've played some rather unimpressive seeds in the tournament to date.

Tomorrow is going to be another war, but I like our chances. We've got a lot of momentum right now, and I think this might be one of those times where playing that 4 game gauntlet back in February will help us. We're getting used to playing tough games back to back to back. Or at least that's my theory.

maizeonblueaction

March 31st, 2013 at 1:56 AM ^

this fanbase a huge favor and follow my ritual that has worked for the last three games. Assume we are going to lose, and therefore refuse to watch, until checking in at the last minute only to see us triumph. You're welcome in advance.

bluenbama

March 31st, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

Friday nite I would randomly check and at one point decided to go to lowes. Was leaving lowes and on my way to Walmart and started to get blasted with texts about the game. Pulled up my handy dandy espn app and watched their game cast as I drove home and caught the last six minute ref huddle and Michigan win..

snoopblue

March 31st, 2013 at 3:25 AM ^

Billy Donovan is a great coach who has won 2 national titles back to back. His 05-06 starters came back after winning the title to win another one, and all 5 of those players were drafted in 2007, including Horford, Noah and Brewer. So he had a starting 5, all with NBA talent, and won it all 2 years in a row. It's still impressive, but he doesn't have all that NBA talent anymore. Young and Murphy have an NBA future, that's about it. Michigan, however, does have 5 starters with NBA potential....

They didn't shoot particularly well against FGSU. I really think this game will not really be that close and Michigan will win. 

 

ghost

March 31st, 2013 at 7:48 AM ^

Florida's only neutral court or road win over an at large teams was Minnesota.  There best road win as FSU.  They have no road wins over teams that were even on the bubble.

OmarDontScare

March 31st, 2013 at 8:25 AM ^

Can someone break down why this team is #1 in Kenpom? I read the preview and I still don't get it.

They shoot a lot of threes but aren't particularly good at it. Have no true PG guard and are short at most of their guard/wing positions.

Is it just a matter of pressure defense and blowing out inferior teams at home?

Needs

March 31st, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

The Murphy / Young defensive matchup is going to be the biggest issue. We don't really have anyone who can check Murphy, who's an archetypal stretch 4. He's got 4 inches on GRIII but if we put McG on him, he can probably take advantage of McG's tendency to help on everything and lack of lateral quickness. That would leave GRIII on Young, which might be an even worse matchup. That dude is rugged. I think we'll start GRIII on Murphy and switch it up if/when he's getting abused.

Not trying to hate on GRIII. It's tough to defend out of position, particularly as a fresh.

Mr. Yost

March 31st, 2013 at 11:12 AM ^

...height isn't as much of a factor.

You're off the ball and out of the paint...it's a lot easier to defend you 1 v. 1.

What makes it tough is if you have a PG that can get in the paint and make the defense collapse...then that stretch 4 becomes a monster as you try to recover and defend.

 

I've said it 5-6 times now, we TOOK that game from Kansas. People need to stop saying they choked or gave us anything. They gave us one play (the 10 second call), everything else...we earned. They were 4-5 from the line, Releford attacked and tried to dunk on McGary, they weren't just passing the ball around trying to stall away the time.

In this game vs. Florida. We're going to need some help from the Gators. Just like they're going to need help from us if they want to win. If either team is shooting the lights out (like both can), there isn't anything the other team can do except try to match them shot-for-shot.

We're going to need UF to miss shots (again, they'll need us to do the same) that they normally would make.

 

Scott Van Pelt always says "how good is your good?" Well I'd say when both teams are playing at their best, they're probably 2 of the 4 best teams in the country with Louisville and Indiana. Let's pray they're not playing their best and we are. Do that and we win. If they're just off, we could easily win by double figures.

Needs

March 31st, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

Murphy does have some ability on the low block, though. And GRIII's really struggled with post defense. If we do go cover him with GRIII, expect Florida to post him up and dump it inside.

Hopefully, we can figure out ways to bring help from unexpected directions when that happens because we're going to have to help, but Florida's strongest when they force a double and then quickly move the ball to an open guy. If Murphy doesn't see the double coming, though, it can screw up the ball movement.

Farnn

March 31st, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

Best thing about McGary's recent surge has been his cut down on fouls.  Being able to play 30+ minutes without sniffing foul trouble has been huge.  I'm sure his defense suffers a bit because he doesn't challenge as much as he could, but he still gets a few steals/blocks in and is disruptive with his body if not his hands.  Hope he can keep the trend going against Florida.

Hannibal.

March 31st, 2013 at 10:28 AM ^

So we are five point underdogs to a team with the same record, but a much, much easier schedule?  How does this work?  Aren't Kansas and VCU better than basically anyone Florida has beaten this year? 

Mr. Yost

March 31st, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

They beat Wisconsin by 18 and beat Marquette by 33!

Both wins early in the year, both at home. But damn.

They lost on the road to Arizona by 1 (a game they should've won) and lost to K-State in KC by 6 (a team we beat in a neutral game, but it was Brooklyn, not KC).

They beat Mizzou by 31...again at home.

 

In the end, you're talking about two very similar teams. It sounds silly to say, but it's just going to be about whoever is making shots. Either team could win this game by 20 if they're hitting and the other team is just off.

Our defensive pressure is going to have to be on point today. Three guys that are going to have to have HUGE games for us are Stauskas, Hardaway Jr. and LeVert. All in different ways. Stauskas, obviously shooting, we need 15+ from him. Hardaway is going to have to make shots and defend better than he has all tourney. LeVert is going to have to come off the bench and provide key stops for us. Game 1 is was Horford, Game 2 it was Albrecht, Game 3 it was Morgan. LeVert is going to need to play tough perimeter defense today.

ghost

March 31st, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

Beat Missouri by 33 at home and then turned around and lost @ Missouri. They are an entirely different team away from home and have had the easiest possible road for a 3 seed.  No team in the tournament has had it easier.

Needs

March 31st, 2013 at 11:37 AM ^

I think that line's probably about right, with the caveat that Florida has only been tested a couple times against teams with an equal level of talent that they have, where that's occurred regularly for Michigan over the last two months . But these are really similar drive and kick, perimeter-oriented teams that generally play at a middling pace. (63.3 possessions/gm for UM, 62.6 for UF) and shoot the 3 well. They take even more 3s than we do, at 40%.

The one big statistical difference that stands out between the two is the defensive eFG%, where they're excellent and we're middling. But we've got the best player on the court. 

Mich4Life

March 31st, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

I love me some dirty, pretentous, southern frat-stars..... they get so wasted (at least at the derby), that you can take their southern bells like candy from the candy drawer at work (don't want anyone to catch you in the act, but a garunteed success at getting that candy).

David

March 31st, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

I too worship at the throne of KenPom, but Florida simply does not pass the sanity check for me of a dominant #1 overall seed. Vegas appears to agree with me to an extent and gives Michigan 2.5-3 points compared to KenPom's 5. In terms of probabilities, Vegas thus gives us something like a  40% chance of winning.

Not tempting KenPom deity, but, in the end, it's just a model!