As always, the first day of the NCAA Tournament was filled with madness, as the day started with a near-buzzer beater that resulted in Dayton upsetting Ohio State. From that point, we saw Albany give Florida a scare right after Pittsburgh demolished Colorado in a lopsided eight-nine matchup. With the Panthers set to square off against the Gators in the “third round” on Saturday, we’re raising the red flag on this upset alert early.
Florida used a high-flying, athletic attack and played good defense in an up-tempo game to outrun the slower, less-athletic Albany team. Put simply, the Pittsburgh did the exact same thing to Colorado, so when the two teams face each other in a fire-vs-fire contest in the Round of 32, something’s gotta give.
Florida definitely has to play a smarter game than it did against Albany, as the Gators undoubtedly went into Thursday looking past that first-round game since it’s supposedly impossible for a No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed, especially when that team is the top overall seed in the tournament. Pittsburgh obviously had an uncharacteristically great game against Colorado, but the Panthers won’t be able to outrun the Gators on Saturday.
Florida wins with its incredible defense, and that’s what propelled Pitt to its incredible blowout win on Thursday. Thus, we could be looking at a 41-40 game if both teams dig in as they should or a 90-85 game if they try to outrun each other. Of course, a dangerous team like Pittsburgh could come out firing off the momentum or flat off a blowout win, which could change the rest of the tournament if that gave Florida a new confidence boost following the Albany scare.
Still, we wouldn’t be surprised if Pittsburgh beats Florida at its own game, especially considering the Gators haven’t lost since Dec. 2 and they’re not used to playing against a team with similar strengths, specifically on offense. Put simply, if you’re not already sweating bullets over your bracket from the Florida-Albany game, you will be on Saturday when Pitt takes the floor for the major upset.