Game Day Vitals
- #9 West Virginia Mountaineers (17-3, Big 12 6-2, NCAA RPI 16) vs. Florida Gators (13-7, SEC 5-3, NCAA RPI 28)
- Location: Stephen C. O'Connell Center (Capacity: 11,548) Gainesville, Florida
- Series Record: UF leads series 3-4
- Last meeting: WVU 57 - #15 UF 70 / American Airlines Center in Miami, December 20, 2003
- Vegas Lines: Florida (-1.5), O/U 140.5
- Date: Saturday, Jan 30, 2016, 12:00 PM EST
- Television: ESPN
- Online Streaming: WatchESPN
- Radio Affiliates
- Florida Gators (13-7, SEC 5-3, NCAA RPI 28)
- Head Coach - Mike White, First year as Florida head coach, 114–47 (.708)
- Last Result: Loss away @ Vandy 60-59
- Official Gators Athletics website
- SB Nation Florida blog - Alligator Army
That was fast. From WVU: "...senior forward Jonathan Holton has been suspended indefinitely from the team for a violation of team rules."— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) January 29, 2016
That's not great. You would be hard pressed to find a player that means more to the success of the squad as Jonathan Holton. Even on the very off performances, you'll often hear "no one has had a good night.... except for Jonathan Holton." He's the beating heart of this team and you could not pick a worse player to go into Ames without next week. You can find more about his impact here, but damn, this sucks.
All that being said, The Swamp isn't the easiest place go to into this year to begin with. Florida has only lost once at home and that was by two points to rival Florida State. They play a very deep rotation with 11 different players getting 10min/game. The big three to worry about are forwards Dorian Finney-Smith (6'8 220lbs) and John Egbunu (6'11 255lbs) along with the freshman guard KeVaughn Allen (6'2 183lbs.) Finney-Smith and Egbunu have the size to really cause problems inside for the Mountaineers, but the question is always if the Gators can handle the press. The Florida backcourt is mostly made up of underclassmen, so their ability to keep a level head against the press is going to be key. WVU losing their best inbound defensemen in Holton should ease the level of difficulty, but it will be a chore nonetheless.
If West Virginia had Jonathan Holton, I would say this game should be a lock for the Mountaineers. Florida has gone 0-3 against RPI Top 25 and 1-5 against the Top 50. However, with WVU going on the road into an unfamiliar environment against a good coach, let's say the Eers win but don't cover. I'm saying this without knowing the spread so how's that for a prediction?
[editor's note: this was written before the line was published (and updated above) Saturday morning]
WVU 72 - Florida 65