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Florida Faces Nevada in First Round of NCAA Tournament

The Florida Gators are set to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gators, who fell to the eventual champion Auburn Tigers 65-62 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, secured a 10-seed in the big dance.

Can Nevada Make Another Deep Run?

The Wolf Pack, who started the season 24-1, looked primed for at least a 4-seed in the tournament. However, they struggled down the stretch by losing three of their final eight games and slipped down to a 7-seed.

Nevada is led by Caleb and Cody Martin, twin brothers out of Mocksville, North Carolina. Caleb leads the team in scoring with 19.2 points per game. He also contributes 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a team-high 1.4 steals per game.

Cody produces 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Even though both have the exact same body frame at 6’7” and 205lbs, they play completely different roles for Eric Musselman’s squad. Caleb is a volume scorer, while Cody is an elite passer and playmaker.

Jalen Hudson described the two contrasting styles of play between his two childhood friends and former teammates.

Jordan Caroline is just as integral as the Martin twins. The senior is dominant in the interior, averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

The Wolf Pack are very good on both sides of the ball. They rank 26th in the country in offensive efficiency, and 32nd in defensive efficiency.

Last year, Nevada made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before losing to Loyola-Chicago. It remains to be seen if this type of run can be replicated by their three senior studs.

Gators Locked In

The Gators certainly played their best basketball of the season in the SEC Tournament. They dismantled a solid Arkansas team and proceeded to take down the top-seeded LSU Tigers before losing to Auburn by three points.

Mike White’s team continues to be one of the best defensive teams in the country. They have a defensive efficiency of 91.9, which ranks 14th in the nation. The Gators limit their opponents to 32.0% from beyond the arc and force a turnover on 22.6% of their defensive possessions, which ranks 16th in the country.

Jazz Johnson discussed his thoughts on the Gators’ defense.

Offensively, the Gators struggled for the first half of the year but have found their groove over the past month. They rank 61st in offensive efficiency and have had success playing with a slow tempo.

Jalen Hudson finally has his stroke and confidence back. He has put up double digit scoring in 10 of his past 12 games.

They have six different players who average over 8.0 points per game, so their scoring attack is very balanced.

Cody Martin mentioned how versatile the Gators are offensively.

The Gators are looking to take advantage of this opportunity that didn’t seem plausible when they were 12-11 overall and 4-6 in the SEC. As chemistry has grown and players have developed, there’s only one goal left to accomplish: just keep dancing.

When and Where?

The game will be played in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night at 6:50 p.m. ET. The game is set to be aired on TNT and can be heard live on ESPN 98.1 FM & 850 AM WRUF.

About Cobi Silverstein

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