Time and Date: Friday, November 23 @ 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Records: Butler (4-1) | Florida (3-2)
Rankings: Butler (#31 KenPom) | Florida (#26 KenPom)
TV Channel: ESPNU
In an interesting turn of events, Butler will face off against Florida for its final Battle 4 Atlantis contest. This game will now be the first leg in a two-game series between the two teams, since they were already scheduled to play each other on December 29.
The two teams have had a similar experience in the Bahamas so far. Both struggled against opponents that seemed decent but beatable to open the tournament, immediately falling to the losers’ bracket. Both teams bounced back quickly, dominating their Thursday opponents. Now, they find themselves in a match-up that will likely make or break the trip for both teams.
Florida is a team that is trying to find itself after losing several key contributors from last year’s team. Coach Mike White has been frustrated by his team’s effort early on and even went so far as to bench Jalen Hudson, who was the projected star for the Gators this year. Hudson came in as a sub in Florida’s most recent victory over Stanford and played just seven minutes. White seems determined to energize his team and whatever he did on Thursday worked.
The Bulldogs had a lot working for them on Thursday as well. Butler’s success seems to be contingent on the performance of three players — Kamar Baldwin, Paul Jorgensen, and Sean McDermott. If one of them plays well, Butler might win. If two of them play well, Butler will probably win. And if all three play well, Butler may be impossible to beat. Against Middle Tennessee, all three shot the lights out. Will Florida be able to slow them down on Friday?
KEYS TO THE GAME
Butler: Aaron Thompson
Aaron Thompson was the key to Thursday’s victory with his driving and dishing. He assisted five threes to McDermott alone. Thompson needs to be able to break down the Gator defense and create looks for his teammates. This means that he has to be careful with the ball and also stay out of foul trouble.
Florida: Defend aggressively
Florida absolutely suffocated Stanford, holding them to just 49 points and causing 20 Cardinal turnovers. They will have to defend Butler equally well or better. The Bulldogs are coming off a stellar offensive performance and with Friday’s game coming just one day later, it’s likely that Butler’s shooters will stay hot. Florida can’t allow Butler’s marksmen to get easy looks.