Florida’s men’s basketball program falling to Florida Atlantic — never solving the problem of guarding the Owls on the perimeter, blowing a lead earned midway through the second half — was not good for the Gators.
Florida State’s 2022-23 season has three losses like that. And so avoiding giving the Seminoles their first win is going to be very important for perception reasons.
The Gators have been fairly good through three games, at least outside of being bombed from three by FAU. Colin Castleton has been a consistent contributor at both ends, Kyle Lofton has been a mostly steady hand at point guard, and the collection of wings that Todd Golden has assembled around that duo has taken turns flashing.
FSU’s problem? It doesn’t really have even that sort of core to speak of. With potential lottery pick Baba Miller sidelined due to NCAA idiocy, the returning duo of Matthew Cleveland and Caleb Mills has struggled to carry the Seminoles, and only Darin Green’s lethality from distance (12 threes on 22 attempts) has kept FSU even respectably close in losses to Stetson, UCF, and Troy.
If Florida can shoot reasonably well and feed Castleton, it should be able to claim this win — even in Tallahassee, where it has struggled in recent years. (A player collapsing on the floor in a game in which Florida appeared to be en route to a rout excuses the most recent loss, of course.)
But FSU is liable to fight in this rivalry and on its home floor — so I would not expect this to be a blowout, barring the Gators responding to their first loss in a resounding way.