2014 Florida Gators Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/10/2014
The Florida Gators won a school-record 30 straight games last year and reached the Final Four for the fifth time in program history. The Gators were disappointed with a 63-53 loss to UConn in the Final Four, but all in all it was another terrific season for this program. Florida has become a national power under the leadership of Billy Donovan. In the last four years, Florida has won a minimum of 26 games in every single year. That doesn't even speak of the success they had in 2006 and 2007 when they won back-to-back national titles.
This Florida program isn't going to sneak up on anyone. They have had three Elite Eight appearances in the last four years. Donovan might not get the attention of some of the other college basketball coaches in the country, but everyone knows he is an amazing coach. In fact, a recent ESPN poll of basketball writers voted Donovan as the nation's best coach. You'll get no argument from me on that one. This year's team will have a lot different look, but Donovan has proven he can do this before.
2014 Florida Key Losses & Additions
The Gators lost a bunch of talent from last year. Scottie Wilbekin emerged as a true leader at the point guard spot last year. Wilbekin consistently came up big for the Gators in the biggest spots during the regular season. His cramping issues really hurt the team in their Final Four loss. Casey Prather was Florida's top scorer last year, and he was a wing who could get the ball in the basketball in a bunch of different ways. Prather's ability to attack the hoop will be missed. Patric Young was the man in the post for Florida the last few years. Young was a scholar athlete, and his ridiculous strength in the post made him a tough force for opponents. Will Yeguette scored the least of the four primary players gone from last year's team, but the coaching staff will tell you he did everything necessary to help this team win. He's the type of guy every coach wants on their team.
Jon Horford transferred over from Michigan, and he's likely to start right away for the Gators. Horford is the younger brother of former Gators standout Al Horford. The coaching staff loves his maturity and his ability to lead a team. Alex Murphy is the younger brother of Erik Murphy, and he transferred over from Duke. He won't be available until mid-December, but he'll see definitely see the court this year. Devin Robinson was a five-star recruit, and he was easily the Gators top freshman recruit. Robinson is 6-foot-8, but he has the ability to step out and score and use his athleticism in the open court. Chris Chiozza is a dynamic passer who will get minutes at the point guard spot. He's a flashy player who reminds some of former flashy Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams.
2014 Florida Backcourt
Despite losing Wilbekin, Florida is in great shape in the backcourt. Kasey Hill is a former McDonald's All-American, and he appears ready to take over. Hill was a bit inconsistent last year, but he dealt with injuries, and being a freshman in a power conference can certainly be difficult. The coaching staff wants Hill to play with more confidence and consistency this year. They also want him to be a vocal leader. Michael Frazier II will likely lead the team in scoring this year. He shot an amazing 45 percent from long range last year. Frazier set a single-game school record by nailing 11 three-pointers in a single game last season. He's worked on ball-handling and shot fakes in the offseason as he tries to be able to drive to the hoop better in the season ahead. Eli Carter was tremendous at Rutgers, and he will get some quality minutes now with Florida as long as he can get healthy. He and Dillon Graham both took a medical redshirt last year, but they are expected to contribute this season.
2014 Florida Frontcourt
Chris Walker didn't live up to expectations last year, but those expectations were very unrealistic. Coach Donovan knew that, and he believes Walker is ready to break out in a big way this season. Donovan knows that Walker can be extremely versatile, but he wants the power forward to keep it simple to start with and focus on the things he is best at on the floor. Horford will start alongside him in the frontcourt. Horford isn't flashy at all, but he'll be solid in pick and roll situations and in transition. Dorian Finney-Smith will start at small forward, and Finney-Smith was the SEC's best sixth man last year. Finney-Smith averaged almost nine points and seven boards last year. He got a lot stronger in the offseason, and he looks to use that to his advantage this year. Murphy and Robinson will both see plenty of time off the bench, and Robinson might end up in the starting lineup by the end of the year.
2014 Florida Futures Odds
Florida is young, but the oddsmakers are not going to bet against Donovan when it comes to having his team ready in March . Sportsbook.ag has installed the Gators as the fifth-favorite at +1,500 to win the NCAA Championship. The Gators are listed at +2,000, according to odds from 5Dimes.
2014 Florida Gators Predictions & NCAA Basketball Picks
It's hard to lose as much as Florida did last year and still be a national title contender. If there's anyone who could lead them to a deep March run, it is Donovan. How committed can he get these new players to be on the defensive end? Florida's defense has been its strength the last few years. The Gators should be a little weaker on that end of the floor. I expect Florida to win 25 games or more again, but I don't think they get to the Final Four again.
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