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Florida vs. Arkansas, Game Thread: Gators enter their post-Colin Castleton period

Playing on the road in one of the toughest environments in college basketball might not go well.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What are the Florida Gators without Colin Castleton? We’re about to get our first returns on that, as Florida visits Arkansas on this Saturday.

The obvious is that Florida will be radically different without their do-everything big man, presumed out for the year with a broken right hand. Jason Jitoboh should get a much larger share of Florida’s minutes at center, and the Gators will probably also play some small-ball lineups with Alex Fudge as their tallest player. That alone will be a dramatic departure from Castleton patrolling the paint and attacking the rim for 30+ minutes per outing.

But we might also see Florida deploy a fair number of new offensive looks as well, as the Gators try to compensate for losing Castleton’s consistent production — something like 20 and 10 with comfortable frequency — by generating more threes or crashing the boards.

Arkansas will surely take little pity on the short-handed Gators. The Razorbacks struggled without injured star freshman Nick Smith Jr., and are not what many predicted they would be even with him back in the rotation.

For both teams, Saturday’s game comes close to a must-win for NCAA Tournament purposes. Arkansas would seem much better-equipped to actually do the winning.