Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Florida (#1)

Lineup notes

Florida:

  • As mentioned above, this is entirely dependent on Scottie Lewis’s availability. Either way, the starting lineup will be Mann, Locke, one of Lewis or Appleby, Duruji, and Castleton.
  • I guess this was already going to be a somewhat-thin roster, but the Keyontae Johnson incident accelerated that. Outside of some spare Nkamhoua/Anosike-type minutes for Samson Ruzhentsev and Ques Glover, White has rarely gone beyond seven-deep in second halves even with Lewis available.
  • The best lineup, surprisingly, appears to be the Mann/Appleby/Locke/Duruji/Castleton combination.

Tennessee:

  • For now, this team appears to be led by the Vescovi, Springer, JJJ, Pons, Fulkerson lineup. This is fine by me.
  • A notable trend, at least from the Arkansas game onward, is Rick Barnes’ preference for a seven-man rotation. After Bailey and Johnson, no bench player has topped 6 minutes in the last three games.
  • Speaking of that, I really, really wish E.J. Anosike had more to offer defensively. As it stands, the Tennessee defense has been 12 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the court, even after making luck and schedule adjustments. Evan Miyakawa’s site says lineups with Anosike are allowing nearly a point per possession, so, uh, that’s why he’s not playing.

Key matchups

Colin Castleton vs. John Fulkerson. This is the matchup with the highest chance of deciding the game. Neither player is going to take a shot from beyond 14 feet or so, which makes this a very old-school battle. Castleton has blocked more shots, but also commits more than double the number of fouls. If Fulkerson – one of basketball’s elite foul-drawers – gets Castleton in foul trouble, he may win it right there. When Castleton is in the game, I want to see Fulkerson do a better job of boxing out and owning the boards than he showed against Texas A&M and Alabama.

Scottie Lewis AND Tyree Appleby vs. Josiah-Jordan James. I’m playing both sides here! Lewis is much more paint-oriented than Appleby, but both are going to barrel their way to the rim and try and get the opponent in foul trouble. James has only had two games with real foul trouble this year (Saint Joseph’s and Texas A&M), and this game is not the time for the third.

Any number of drives, post-ups, or cuts vs. Yves Pons. Pons is Mr. Fix-It himself, and when a Tennessee guard gets beat in this game – yes, it will happen sometimes – Pons has to be there to prevent an easy two points for a Florida offense that badly needs easy points to get rolling.

Three predictions

  1. Tennessee wins the turnover battle for the 12th game in a row;
  2. Mike White pulls a player with two fouls in the first half and doesn’t play him again until the second half;
  3. Tennessee 72, Florida 64.

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