Florida vs. Vanderbilt College Basketball Odds & Picks: Bet the Gators Over Lowly Commodores
Joe Robbins/Getty Images. Pictured: Tre Mann.
- Florida will play its first game without Keyontae Johnson on Wednesday night.
- The Gators face a Vanderbilt program that has won three SEC games in the last two years.
- BJ Cunningham explains why he is backing them as road dogs in Nashville.
Florida vs. Vanderbilt Odds
|Florida Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Vanderbilt Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-320 / +250 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||142.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET|
After 18 days off, Florida basketball is back in action to begin SEC play when it heads to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt.
Florida has already been through a lot this season with the health issues of its best player, Keyontae Johnson. The good news is Johnson is going to be OK, although he’s likely out for the rest of the season.
Without him, Florida struggled against in-state rival Florida State, losing by 12 on the road. However, playing Vanderbilt is a great chance for head coach Mike White’s squad to get its season back on track.
Jerry Stackhouse has a lot of work ahead of him at Vanderbilt. The Commodores are basically penciled into the 14th spot in the SEC this season, especially after failing their two biggest tests of the season so far against Richmond and Davidson.
Vanderbilt has won only three conference games over the past two seasons, and it doesn’t look like it will win too many this season, either.
When Florida has the ball
Florida is going to greatly miss Johnson, who averaged 14 points per game last season and was at 16 per game after his four games. As if he wasn’t enough, the Gators also had to replace their best two players from last season.
Florida was the sixth-youngest team in the country in 2019-20, so White is hoping the growing pains of last season can provide experience going into 2020-21.
White has made one big change so far this season, turning up the tempo on the offense. Last season, Florida opted for a lot of pick and roll, drive and dish, and isolation ball in its half-court offense. Through their first four games, the Gators have gone with more pace and space, going from 326th in tempo to 104th, per KenPom.
The change hasn’t made much of a change from an efficiency standpoint, as Florida is ranked 29th in offensive efficiency to begin the season. However, that is likely to take a dip without Johnson.
Vanderbilt, for lack of a better word, was horrible on the defensive end of the floor last year. It ranked 221st in defensive efficiency and 305th in effective field goal percentage allowed, per KenPom. This season, the Commodores have made drastic improvements, moving all the way up to 125th in defensive efficiency and 91st in effective field goal percentage allowed.
A lot of that improvement, though, is due to playing easy competition. In its two losses to Richmond and Davidson, Vandy allowed 1.19 points per possession, so it’s likely going to struggle against a top-30 offense on Wednesday night.
When Vanderbilt has the ball
Last year, Vanderbilt had the worst offense in the SEC, ranking 139th in offensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Commodores also relied on way too many of their points coming from the free-throw line, as they had the ninth-highest free throw rate in the country. They also lost their best player in Aaron Nesmith, so it’s going to be tough sledding for Stackhouse’s men this season.
Vanderbilt shoots a ton of 3-pointers. In fact, it shoots them at the 17th-highest rate in the country. However, the Commodores don’t make them at a very high percentage, which was the main issue of why their offense was dead last in the SEC last year. They are hitting 3-point shots at a 32.6% clip to begin the season.
Florida’s defense is what held the Gators back in 2019-20: The Gators ranked 61st in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. However, they’ve made a massive jump in the rankings up to 21st to start 2020.
Florida is long and lethal, ranking in the top 100 in team height and boasting the No. 1 block rate in the country through four games.
One area the Gators struggled in last season, which has carried over into this season, is defending the opponent’s 3-point shot. So far, the Gators are allowing 34.5% shooting from beyond the arc and allowed Florida State to shoot 50% in their last game. Vanderbilt is going to take a ton of shots from 3, so the Gators better be ready defensively.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Even without Johnson, the Gators are far and away the better squad in this matchup. Vanderbilt is in the basement of the SEC for a reason — it does not have the talent on either end of the floor to compete with the top half of the league.
To make matters worse for Vanderbilt, starting center Clevon Brown missed Sunday’s game against Alcorn State and is questionable to play on Wednesday.
Accounting for both the absences of Johnson and Brown, I have the Gators projected as -7.77 favorites. That means I think there’s some value on Florida at -6.
Pick: Florida -6.