2019 NCAA Tournament: Three Keys for Nevada vs Florida
The Wolf Pack look to kick start another long NCAA tournament run on Thursday as they take on the Florida Gators in Des Moines
Three Keys for #7 Nevada vs #10 Florida in 2019 NCAA Tournament First Round Contest
The Nevada Wolf Pack will begin with what they hope will be a deep NCAA tournament run on Thursday as they take on the Florida Gators in the first round of the West Region in Des Moines, Iowa. Tip off for this contest is at 3:50pm PST and the game will be televised on the TNT network.
The Wolf Pack have dropped off a bit going 2-3 in their last five games. In the last two games, the Wolf Pack struggled against Boise State before beating them in the Mountain West conference tournament quarterfinals. But in the semifinal round, the Wolf Pack fell apart in a loss to San Diego State and was eliminated from the Mountain West tournament.
Because of that rough finish to the end of conference tournament play, some folks are not as high on Nevada making another tournament run similar to last season when the Wolf Pack advanced to the round of 16. You can see that the oddsmakers are not as high on Nevada making a deep tournament run due to the Wolf Pack’s less than stellar performance heading into the NCAA tournament.
The Wolf Pack are taking on a Florida Gators team that comes into the tournament with a 19-15 record and are a talented but an inconsistent team that struggles on offense. Florida does boast a good defense (14th per Ken Pom’s rankings) and their offense did get slightly better late in the season and into the SEC tournament.
During that late stretch in the season. Florida defeated the LSU Tigers twice (both games in overtime) once in Baton Rouge on Feb 20th and once in Nashville in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals last Thursday.
Here are the keys for this match-up between #7 Nevada vs #10 Florida
Crash the Glass
Florida has not been good at rebounding the ball this season as the team is ranked in the triple digits nationally in total rebounds per game (276th), defensive rebounds per game (324th) and offensive rebounds per game (129th). This Florida team has a lot of deficiencies this season and one of them is rebounding the ball.
Along with Florida’s problems rebounding the ball this season, they are not a particularly big team as they only have three active players (Kevarrius Hayes, Isaiah Stokes and Dontay Bassett) that are taller than 6 foot 8.
The Wolf Pack start five players who are all 6 foot 7 or taller so it is an opportunity for Trey Porter, Tre’ Shawn Thurman and Jordan Caroline(who is going to play after missing the San Diego State game last week due to a foot injury) to take advantage of Florida’s rebounding/size deficiencies and crash the glass in order to defeat the Gators.
Get out and run, run and run some more
Florida plays at one of the slowest paces in the nation as they are ranked 346th in KenPom’s adjusted tempo ranking. Nevada is the opposite as they are ranked 88th in adjusted tempo and plays at a fast tempo.
Florida wants to use their slow down temp to set up their defense (a calling card for this Gator team as they are ranked in the top 20 in KenPom’s defensive rankings) so it is important for Nevada to get the ball and push the ball down the court as it would prevent the Gators from setting up their defense.
On the other side, Nevada must set-up their defense quickly so as to stifle a Florida offense that has been inconsistent this season and not good at shooting the three point shot all season (34 percent from three as a team). Overall, the Wolf Pack must dictate the tempo in order to defeat the Gators on Thursday.
Nevada’s big three plus one must play big
It is no secret that when Nevada is at its best, it is because of the stellar play of Caleb and Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline. When the Wolf Pack lost to San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament semifinals last Friday, Caroline was sidelined with a hamstring injury and did not play, Caleb Martin was saddled with early foul trouble and only scored eight points the whole game.
Cody Martin stepped in to score 16 points and Tre’Shawn Thurman filled in nicely with 11 points and 11 rebounds but without Caroline and Caleb Martin’s production, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Aztecs.
In order for Nevada to defeat Florida on Thursday and move on to the next round (and possibly further) the Wolf Pack is going to need top level performances from the Martin twins, Tre’Shawn Thurman and Jordan Caroline who looks ready to play after missing the San Diego State game last Friday with an injured foot.
If Nevada can get the absolute best out of the Martin twins, a rejuvenated Caroline and Thurman, then the Wolf Pack’s chances to advance to the next round is very high.