College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Cal vs. Florida: Why to Back Gators in Home State
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Myreon Jones
- Undefeated Florida takes on Cal in the first round of the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
- The Gators have defeated Florida State so far this season, while the Golden Bears have lost to UC San Diego.
- Mike Randle covers this matchup and provides his top selection.
Cal vs. Florida Odds
The Pac-12 and SEC battle on Monday night during the first day of the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
California (2-2) is coming off 75-68 double-overtime win over Southern Utah. The Golden Bears received some generous help at the scorer’s table, but still battled their way to a second consecutive victory.
Florida is coming off three impressive home wins, including exercising the demons against Florida State. The Gators earned their first win, 71-55, in eight seasons over the Seminoles.
The Gators are a substantial favorite, but which team should bettors back in this Thanksgiving tournament showdown in Fort Myers?
California struggled to a 9-20 overall record last season, including just a 3-17 mark in Pac-12 play. The Golden Bears competed well in the conference tournament, though, upsetting Stanford before losing to Colorado, 61-58.
Head coach Mark Fox enters his third season and has the Golden Bears playing at a deliberate pace. California ranks just 336th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, making it one of the slowest teams in the country.
Fox’s squad struggles with interior scoring, shooting just 43.8% from 2-point range. The Golden Bears do not crash the offensive boards, ranking just 289th in offensive rebounding percentage. They prefer to send multiple defenders back on defense, trying to prevent fast break opportunities for their opponents.
California is shooting well from 3, with three players — who have at least seven attempts — averaging 40% or better from beyond the arc.
Defensively, the Golden Bears defend the interior well, allowing opponents to only shoot 44.1% from 2. Their opposition has been mediocre, as they have battled UNLV on the road to a close 55-52 loss.
Florida, however, will represent a significant increase in talent.
Head coach Mike White has melded together a ton of new players and has Florida at a perfect 3-0 to start the season. The Gators have four transfers playing major minutes and all are supporting the dominating play of big man Colin Castleton.
The 6-foot-11, 231-pound senior is averaging a nightly double-double (17.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG). Castleton is also a dominant defensive presence with 4.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. He is a foundation of a Florida defense that ranks top-20 overall and 10th-best in 2-point interior defense (38.3% FG allowed).
The Gators have a history of struggling on offense under White, but they did shoot 39.3% (11-of-23) from deep in their last win against Milwaukee.
Penn State transfer Myreon Jones (38.9%) and senior Tyree Appleby (44.4%) provide the perfect outside balance to Castleton’s interior efficiency.
The Gators will have a huge advantage on the boards, especially with second-chance points. Florida ranks 26th in offensive rebounding efficiency led by Castleton and Anthony Duruji, who combine to average eight per game.
Cal vs. Florida Betting Pick
This game is being held in Fort Myers, just 3.5 hours from Florida’s campus. The Gators are a much better team than California and should stifle the Golden Bears on offense.
California’s defensive metrics will not hold up against the versatile Florida attack. Look for Castleton to score early, with the talented Florida perimeter players gradually increasing the lead.
I’m laying the 11.5 points with the Gators and would do so up to 13.