LSU Tigers vs. Florida Gators Pick ATS

by | Feb 26, 2020 | cbb

LSU Tigers (19-8 SU, 12-14-1 ATS) vs. Florida Gators (17-10 SU, 11-16 ATS)

When: Wednesday, February 26, 9 p.m.

Where: Exactech Arena, Gainesville, Fla.

TV: ESPN2

Point Spread: LSU +5/FLA -5 (SportsBetting.ag - 50% Bonus up to $1000 in Free Plays!)

Total: O/U 148.5

Last Time Out:

LSU edged South Carolina 86-80; Florida lost 65-59 to Kentucky

Scouting the Tigers:

Boy, did LSU need that one. February has been straight-up disastrous for the Bayou Bengals, as they ended Vanderbilt’s two-year SEC losing streak, gagged a sure win at Auburn, couldn’t outscore Alabama and got blitzed on the arc by Kentucky. Add it all up, and the team that started 8-0 in the SEC is now 10-4, with its only wins in the past three weeks coming at home over Missouri and at South Carolina. So yeah, the Tigers have been a complete mess as of late, and one big reason is that their defense has been MIA.

LSU wasn’t a great defensive squad anyway, but the Tigers at least tended to hold teams in the 70s in most of their games prior to February. In January, Florida was the only team to break 80 against LSU in regulation, and the Tigers held Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Texas under 70 points while slowing down Alabama enough to keep the SEC’s best offense to 76. In February, it’s been the opposite. Only Missouri and Kentucky haven’t broken 80 against LSU, and that includes giving up 88 or more on three occasions, including 99 in regulation to Vanderbilt, which hasn’t cracked 80 against anyone else in the league and hasn’t even broken 70 in 11 of its 14 league games. In short, this team is a fading mess on defense and badly needs to have its offense firing to win games.

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Scouting the Gators:

Florida was supposed to be the SEC’s best team. That didn’t happen, as Kentucky is instead on track to seal the deal this week if it can beat Auburn. But the Gators might very well be the league’s hottest team, as Flor-ida has won five of its past seven and gave the Wildcats a very good battle in Lexington before succumbing. Where LSU has been all offense, Florida has gotten the job done with defense in February. Only Georgia has managed to break 70 against the Gators this month, and that includes a nightmarish loss to Mississippi in Ox-ford, where Florida lost by 17 points but still managed to play well enough on defense to hold the Rebels to a reasonable 68.

What’s helped Florida get going is the play of Keyontae Johnson inside. Kerry Blackshear got all the headlines this offseason when he left Virginia Tech to play at Florida, but Johnson is the import from the Old Dominion State (he’s originally from Norfolk) who’s making the most impact right now. Not only has he scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, but he’s been a beast on the boards, ripping down nine or more in four of Florida’s past five contests.

X-Factor:

The SEC tournament. Right now, both of these teams are sitting on double byes in the SEC tournament, which goes to the top four finishers in the conference. That’s important because LSU and Florida are both living on the right side of the bubble for the time being, but taking a bad loss could quickly ruin that situation. The best way to avoid a bad loss in a conference tournament is simply not to play a team who could provide a bad loss, and the best chance of that is to finish high enough to avoid the worst opponents.

The SEC doesn’t have a lot of land mines, but it has two very dangerous ones at the back end of the league: Georgia and Mississippi. Finish fifth in the league, and not only do you miss out on the double bye, but your first conference tournament game is likely against one of these squads, both of whom are talented enough to pull an upset and poor enough in the eyes of the committee that a conference tournament loss to them could be enough to sink your season. LSU has a bit of breathing room with a two-game lead, but Florida is hearing Mississippi State’s footsteps, as it’s only one game up and would lose a tiebreaker to the Bulldogs and drop to fifth. That means that both teams really need this game, but the Gators need it in the worst way.

This game will have a lot to do with which team is able to play at a pace that’s comfortable for its skills. If Texas A&M is able to slow the game down and play the way it likes to play, it’ll need to make sure it’s efficient on each possession. If Kentucky can deny the Aggies, a slow speed could actually play right into the Wildcats’ hands.

LSU will Cover if:

The Tigers can get to the foul line. LSU was able to take over the game because it got both Johnson and Black-shear in foul trouble and forced fellow big man Omar Payne to foul out. It added up to a weakened Florida frontcourt, a short Gator bench, and 31 free throw attempts for LSU, compared to just 11 for the Gators. LSU hit 24 of 31 and escaped with a two-point win at home. To get a win this time, the Tigers either need to have solved their 3-point issues or get back to the stripe.

Florida will Cover if:

The Gators can play with their feet and not their hands. Florida’s lack of bodies in the frontcourt also meant LSU grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and won the battle on the glass by a 38-28 margin. The fact that the Ga-tors only lost by two points was a testament to how well they shot, and that’s likely to carry over because Florida boasts the most accurate offense in the SEC.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Lost in LSU’s two-point win in Baton Rouge was the fact that other than the fouls, Florida actually dominated the game and really should have managed a win. Well, the fouls aren’t all that likely to follow the Gators to Gainesville, where they’ll have a friendly crowd that’s going to get on the officials if the calls are too one-sided in the Tigers’ direction, fair or not.

That should give the Gators the edge they need to keep their best players on the court and controlling the game. Throw in that Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart can’t seem to get on the same page right now with both players scoring at once, and this looks set up to be a good night for Florida. Give me the Gators. Where are you betting your college basketball picks? Does your bookie offer you discounted betting odds? 25 team parlays? 20 point teasers? Fast payouts? PROBABLY NOT! Dump him today and start betting at -105 odds instead of -110 at 5Dimes!

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