GAINESVILLE -- It's only the NIT, but everyone can get excited about Florida vs. Miami, right? We'll find out on Friday night. The Gators host the 'Canes at 7 p.m. at the O'Connell Center.
Interest for Wednesday night's NIT opener was lacking. The game was not televised and the O'Connell Center was half empty. We talked about it in the game story of UF 84, Jacksonville 62. The Gators played well against JU of the Atlantic Sun. No surprise there. JU was clearly overmatched at every position. Even Nick Calathes (19 points) and Chandler Parsons (17 points) got back on track thanks to the Dolphins. One interesting side note to this game: Freshman Erving Walker started in place of Parsons and Parsons responded with his best game in over a month.
OK, enough about the Gators' game against JU. Who cares, right? Let's talk Gators-'Canes. It'd be about 10,000 times more exciting if these two teams were meeting in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but, hey, you take what you can get. First, here's a link to colleague Manny Navarro's game story of Miami 78, Providence 66.
Playing on its home court gives UF a clear advantage in this game. Miami had to fly from Providence back to Miami early Thursday morning, prepare for the Gators on Thursday afternoon and then travel to Gainesville on Friday morning. Not exactly an ideal three days of postseason basketball.
While UF has home-court advantage, Miami probably holds every other edge in this match-up. 'Canes guard Jack McClinton will be the best shooter on the court and the Gators have struggled throughout the season against talented three-point shooters.
Miami's athletic frontcourt combination of Cyrus McGowan, Dwayne Collins and Brian Asbury will keep Dan Werner and Alex Tyus busy. Meanwhile, The Hurricanes' bench is a little deeper than the Gators' group of young reserves.