OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16: Kenny Boynton #1 of the Florida Gators drives in the first half against Akil Mitchell #25 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Apologies for the lack of previewing of Florida's round of 32 matchup in the NCAA Tournament with Norfolk State. I've been busy (and sunburned) in the last 48 hours, and I can't exactly get up for a No. 15 seed — as a fan, I don't have to, which is good — because I know something I'll bet everyone in both locker rooms in Omaha does, but the Gators would never utter:
No No. 15 seed has ever made it to the Sweet Sixteen.
It'll happen someday, surely, because the NCAA Tournament will eventually expand to include 256 teams or something stupid like that, but I don't think it's going to happen today. Billy Donovan's not dumb, Florida is not playing poorly, and there's no more surprise factor possible for Kyle O'Quinn and his merry band of Spartans.
Here are the three things that Florida needs to do to win, and the three things the Gators must avoid.
Play Through Patric Young
It might sound odd: Why should Florida play through the player who will have the toughest matchup of the night, working against O'Quinn? But two reasons for playing through him, the prospect of getting O'Quinn in foul trouble and the chance that Florida will get open threes on kick-outs, should be obvious; the other is that Young is best when he gets consistent touches, and can seem a little less driven when he doesn't. That wasn't really the case against Virginia, despite him being less involved than he usually is, but it's still a thing to guard against for Florida.
Yes, the Gators decimated Virginia despite failing to even qualify as "bad" from three-point range on Friday, but that's not something that Florida can rely on. Other teams can score, and Norfolk State, which exploded in by far its best offensive game of the season against Missouri (the Spartans posted a 133.7 offensive efficiency, dwarfing its second-best night, a 123.3 against a moribund Navy team), counts as one of them. The Gators' defense can be leaky, so putting the pressure on another team to score with them is always helpful.
Use Casey Prather (Really)
Prather played the best game of his life on Friday, scoring 14 points and snagging four rebounds while not committing any of the turnovers that have been the mortal enemies of his playing time. Florida could use him against the taller Spartans, who will throw six or seven players between 6'3" and 6'7" on the floor, on defense, and if he continues his stunning bloom as a slasher, he gives the Gators another dangerous wing option.
And as for the things to avoid...
Don't Let Kyle O'Quinn Get Off
There's a snowball's chance in hell that O'Quinn will fully duplicate his domination of Missouri (26 points, 14 rebounds), but he's by far the most dangerous Spartan. And I've seen all sorts of less talented post players do work against Florida this season and before. Solid defense that doesn't sacrifice Young or Erik Murphy to foul trouble should be enough.
Don't Let Erving Walker Drive Off A Cliff
Walker has improved year-over-year as a decision-maker, and has improved this season as a driver by learning when to kick out instead of trying to lay in shots against post players a foot taller than he is. But Norfolk State plays tall guards, increasing the degree of difficulty for Erv.
Don't Shoot Yourselves Out Of It
Florida's three-point troubles against Virginia were less troubling and more puzzling because the Gators kept taking good threes. Good threes tend to go in fairly often for this team (328 times in the regular season), and good threes are sort of the point of the Donovan offense. But Walker, Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal, and Mike Rosario are all capable of taking bad threes, and many of them. Let's hope that isn't the case today.
For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Saturday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.