League play is great, but after two months straight of conference-only games we’re ready for something more. A great aspect of the big dance is watching two teams from different conferences battle it out using two completely different styles.
Here are two games to look for.
Florida (7) vs Virginia (10)
These teams are near polar opposites. Florida has a great offense (3rd in offensive efficiency) and they struggle to defend (119th). Virginia has a hard time scoring (106th) while their defense is superb (5th). But it’s their styles that are so intriguing. Virginia’s pack-line defense relies on ball pressure combined with the rest of the team preventing penetration into the interior of the defense. Florida’s offense relies on penetration to set up 3s. The Gators attempt 44.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, which is more than any other team in the Tourney. The Gators are 19th in the nation at making threes, and the Cavs are the 13th best team at denying them.
Florida also spreads the ball around, and all five starters attempt at least 19.5 percent of the shots when they’re on the floor. And Virginia is the Mike Scott show. He takes over 31 percent of Virginia’s shots.
If Florida can somehow have even an average 3-point shooting night (39 percent) then they should win this game. For Virginia to win Mike Scott needs to abuse UF’s soft interior defense.
Georgetown (3) vs Belmont (14)
In this case it’s Belmont, who likes to get out and run (64th fastest tempo, nationally), versus a grinding Georgetown team (294th). Belmont is an exceptional 3-point shooting team and makes over 38 percent of their attempts. Georgetown has the No. 1 3-point defense in the nation. Three teams all season have made at least 40 percent of their 3s against the Hoyas, and in the past five games no one has even eclipsed 25 percent.
Belmont’s best 3-point shooter is 5-11 Drew Hanlen (48 percent). If Belmont can get him open looks in transition, they could be advancing. If Georgetown is scoring enough to get their defense set following made baskets, then it will be one-and-done for Belmont.