Florida Laying 5 Points vs Providence in Neutral-Court Battle Between Struggling Teams

Wide shot of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
The Florida Gators clash with the Providence Friars in Brooklyn on Tuesday night. Photo by David Jones [CC License].
  • The Florida Gators and Providence Friars meet Tuesday night (Dec. 17, 7:00 PM ET) in Brooklyn
  • Florida is a 5-point favorite and the total is set at 133
  • Both teams are off to disappointing starts this season

The Florida Gators (6-3, 3-0 neutral) and Providence Friars (6-5, 1-1 neutral) clash in a battle between two struggling teams Tuesday night (Dec. 17, 7:00 PM ET) in Brooklyn. The neutral-site matchup is part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational, and Florida has opened as 5-point favorites.

Florida vs Providence Odds

Team Spread Total at BetOnline
Florida Gators -5.0 (-110) Over 133.0 (-110)
Providence Friars +5.0 (-110) Under 133.0 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 16.

Both programs have been abysmal against the spread so far this season. The Gators are 2-7 ATS, while the Friars are 3-8 ATS and have failed to cover in six straight. Each team is right around .500 versus the total, but four straight Florida games have gone over, despite the team putting up just 70.4 points per outing during that stretch.

Preseason Darlings

The Gators were everybody’s sleeper this preseason and began the campaign as a top-10 contender in the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds. They’ve struggled out of the gate, losing three of their first nine, and now find themselves outside the AP top-25. Last time out versus Butler (a 76-62 road loss), they shot just 43% from the field, which is a problem that has plagued them all season.

Florida ranks 153rd in the nation in field goal percentage, and 294th from beyond the arc. They average just 67 points per game and generate only 10.4 assists per outing, which ranks 291st.

Fortunately, their effort at the defensive end has been much stronger. The Gators rank 34th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metrics, and have limited their opposition to a 40% field-goal percentage this season. They surrender just 63.6 points per game and have allowed more than 67 points just once all season.

Can Anybody Fix the Friars?

Speaking of good defense, that’s been the lone bright spot for Providence this season. They rank 53rd in defensive efficiency and force the seventh-most turnovers in the nation. They’re long and athletic on the perimeter, which creates problems for enemy shooters.

The Friars are limiting their opponents to a 41.8% shooting percentage and have forced a turnover on 26% of all opponent possessions, which is the highest mark in the Big East.

The problem is on offense, especially in the half court. Providence ranks 197th in field-goal percentage and averages just 0.84 points per possession in the half court set. Just two players on the roster average double-digit points per game, and only one of their starters shoots above 43% from the floor.

Their poor shooting had led to some inexplicable losses, most notably to Long Beach State, Charleston and Penn.

Expect a Low Scoring Affair

Both of these teams excel on defense and neither exudes confidence at the offensive end. The 133  over/under may seem like a low total, but it’s a number that nine of their 20 combined games have failed to eclipse this season.

Florida will be by far the toughest team Providence has faced so far, while the Gators have played four teams that rank higher in defensive efficiency than the Friars, and have averaged just 60.5 points in those outings.

Pick: Under 133.0 (-110)

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