Free NCAA Tournament Picks: #7 Florida vs. #3 Marquette 3/22/12

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The upstarts of the NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators, are going to be squaring off on the Sweet 16 odds on Thursday night in Phoenix, when they take on the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Sweet 16 Matchup: #7 Florida Gators vs. #3 Marquette Golden Eagles
Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 10:15 ET
Location: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Sweet 16 Odds: Marquette -1.5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: TBS

When push comes to shove, the onus of this game really doesn’t come down to much of anything that Marquette is going to do. If the Gators are hitting their shots from the outside, they are going to win this game and probably win it quite handily. If they aren’t though, it is going to be a long, uphill battle for them to be able to get the job done when push comes to shove.

UF is going to throw four guards on the court at the same time for virtually the entire game. Ironically, the team is shooting a whopping 76 percent from the floor on two-point shots, but still, it is a team that lives and dies by the three-pointer. The guards can run down rebounds, but as we saw with undersized teams like the Missouri Tigers already in this region, when there are big men that can out-jump the little guys, matters could get sticky if there are going to be a ton of rebounding opportunities. If there is good news for the Gators though, it is that they have a lot of NCAA Tournament experience, and if it comes down to coaching, Billy Donovan should be able to run circles around the fiery Buzz Williams.

Marquette’s ability to win this game might come down to Jae Crowder. There is no doubt that Crowder is a force to be reckoned with, and he is going to be the best rebounder on the court. He has a knack for getting the opposing big men in foul trouble, and if that turns out to be the case, Donovan is going to have to go onto his bench fairly early, which certainly won’t be making him a happy camper, knowing that all of his experience is in his first seven players in the rotation. Crowder has had five straight double-doubles, and he can really dominate in the paint. If he is able to draw plenty of attention, Darius Johnson-Odom, a man who has averaged 18.5 points per game here in the dance and for the season is going to have the ability to light things up as well.

We’re just really concerned with the way that the Gators play basketball, and we know that eventually, they are going to get bitten by it. The problem with Marquette though, is that its offense has tended to go in the tank in the big time games. If the Virginia Cavaliers had any offense whatsoever, UF would have been dismissed in the first round easily. Instead, the Gators are still here. The Golden Eagles just don’t have the tools to get the job done against this team, and we are going to bank on the fact that the sharpshooters for the Gators have more to bring to the table in this game than Crowder and the rest of his Golden Eagles do.

Sweet 16 Free Pick: Florida Gators +1.5

Wisconsin vs. Syracuse Projected Final Score: Florida 70 – Marquette 66

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.