After a 3-1 start to the Golden era at the University of Florida, the Gators men’s basketball team is headed out West for a major test in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament. UF will face the Xavier Musketeers in the opening round, giving fans a rematch of last year’s Round 2 NIT matchup.
Florida lost that game to end a disappointing season, which makes this a revenge game for returning players like Colin Castleton, CJ Felder and Kowacie Reeves. Castleton, in particular, is a player to watch for as he was limited to just 10 points and six boards against Xavier the last time out. He’s been on an absolute tear so far this season, averaging 25.3 points per game and 8.8 rebounds through the Gators’ first four contests.
It’s worth noting that Reeves lead Florida in scoring the last time these two teams met up. He has struggled to find his stroke early on in Todd Golden’s system, but this could be the breakout game he needs.
One of the reasons Castleton may not be as effective as he’s been all year is Xavier’s starting center Jack Nunge, who is listed as a 7-footer. Castleton struggled to dominate the paint in the first half against Florida State, but he carried the team in the second half to a victory. Adjustments will have to be made to overcome Xavier’s size, but Castleton’s a much different player than he was during last season’s NIT run.
If the Gators can win in the first round of this tournament, a likely matchup with Duke awaits.
Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. EST in the O’Connell Center in Gainesville.
Projected Starting Lineups:
6-7 / 240
6-11 / 250
6-4 / 206
6-3 / 188
6-6 / 192
7-0 / 245
6-9 / 225
6-3 / 175
6-6 / 205
6-2 / 190
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