Florida’s men’s basketball team getting off to impressive 4-0 start to the college basketball season has as much to do with how and where the Gators won as who they beat. Four wins by seven or more points — three by double digits — away from home would be good for any team against any other teams, but the Gators have played a smattering of mid-major NCAA Tournament contenders en route to their participation in the AdvoCare Invitational, running Thursday through Sunday in Orlando.
But beginning with 2016 Big East champ Seton Hall on this Thanksgiving night (ESPN2 or WatchESPN), Florida is likely to face a step up in competition.
The Gators simply haven’t seen a team with the athletes that Seton Hall has, and the Pirates’ top trio — Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, and Desi Rodriguez — is about as good as any you’ll find outside a power conference in 2016-17.
Carrington is the Pirates’ best scorer, Rodriguez a tweener who is unafraid to mix it up inside, and Delgado a physical center who should be a fine matchup for John Egbunu. All three spent 2015-16 in the shadow of then-sophomore classmate and future NBAer Isaiah Whitehead, but Rodriguez led Seton Hall in three-point percentage, Carrington was second on the team in scoring, and Delgado was within a tenth of a point and seven-tenths of a rebound of averaging a double-double. They’re known quantities, and they give Kevin Willard a reliable core.
And Carrington and freshman Myles Powell might be an upgraded version of the St. Bonaventure backcourt that gave Florida fits. Carrington is 10-for-15 from three this year, and Powell is 9-for-20.
To put that in perspective, no Gator has hit eight threes yet this year — and Florida’s played four games to Seton Hall’s three.
This should be an up-tempo affair, and it might hinge on whether Florida can turn over the Pirates, who are coughing up the ball on just under a sixth of their possessions. Those turnovers could fuel a Florida offense that runs well, but tends to stagnate in the half court.