FILE – In this Nov. 24, 2019, file photo, Florida’s head coach Mike White celebrates after defeating Xavier 70-65 in an NCAA college basketball game during the finals of the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C. The Gators didn’t have much fun last year. White is eager for his Gators to run and press like never before. Florida is scheduled to open their season Nov. 25, 2020, in Connecticut. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
- The Florida Gators will host the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM ET.
- The Gators returned to action on Wednesday after pausing play for several weeks following the tragic injury to star Keyontae Johnson.
- LSU is 6-1 on the season and is coming off a blowout win over Texas A&M.
After a tragic incident to one of its players, Florida’s season was paused. They had to postpone several games and just returned to the court on Wednesday and will now start their SEC season when they host the LSU Tigers Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday at 2:00 PM ET.
LSU also just started SEC play but is a healthy 6-1 on the season, but the Gators are the slight favorite. What’s the best bet for this Saturday afternoon matchup?
LSU vs Florida Opening Odds
|LSU Tigers||+104||+1.5 (-112)||Over 152.5 (-110)|
|Florida Gators||-122||-1.5 (-108)||Under 152.5 (-110)|
All odds taken January 1 at FanDuel.
Gators Surrounded By Uncertainty
The Gators endured some trauma recently when star Keyontae Johnson not just for the season, but very probably for the rest of his basketball career. He collapsed on the court and is unlikely to ever play again after suffering what was believed to have been a life-threatening episode.
The Gators picked up the pieces against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Wednesday night, which was their first game without Johnson as an active member of the roster. It was an emotional time for the Gators but they managed to produce a solid performance in a 91-72 win.
The unexpected star for Florida was Colin Castleton, who scored 23 points on 11 of 13 shooting in a dazzling and efficient display. Players aren’t going to shoot 11 of 13 on a regular basis, but it remains that if Castleton can play at a high level on a consistent basis, Florida can compensate for the absence of Johnson and still field a formidable team in this season’s SEC.
Florida’s win over Vanderbilt was also fueled by nine blocked shots. The Gators reacted very well on defense with Anthony Duruji and Scottie Lewis both blocking three shots apiece. Florida turned defense into offense, disrupting shots and then getting out in transition at the other end.
They fought hard in that one as evidenced by the nine blocks shots to go with 14 forced turnovers from Vanderbilt. The question is was that just an emotionally-charged output or can they keep that momentum going?
How Good Is LSU?
LSU basketball is still an unknown entity right now, which goes for most college basketball teams at this point in the season. The Tigers lost to Saint Louis earlier in the season and have not beaten anyone of note. They did win their SEC opener on Tuesday night, beating Texas A&M 77-54 but the Aggies aren’t exactly a Top 25 juggernaut.
Cameron Thomas was the star for LSU, scoring 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Darius Days was also a key presence for LSU in its blowout of the Aggies, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a double-double for the Bayou Bengals. LSU’s perimeter defense was excellent against A&M, limiting the Aggies to five-of-26 shooting from long distance.
What’s The Best Bet?
LSU and Florida don’t know what they have at this point in the season. Both teams are trying to figure things out. It feels like Florida should get the edge here because they’re at home and because LSU hasn’t really beaten anyone of consequence. Give a very slight lean to Florida here as they’re probably going to pull this out by about two or four points.
Prediction: Florida -1.5
For over 15 years, Dave has been working in mainstream media and sports betting. He hosted a station on Sirius Satellite Radio for four years, and is currently a senior writer for AskMen. He’s interviewed hundreds of hundreds of high-profile sports stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Floyd Mayweather.