West Virginia (5-2) vs. Florida (4-3)
Tipoff: 9 p.m. (ESPN) from Madison Square Garden in New York
Line: Florida favored by 1.5 points
Know the foe: Picked fifth in the SEC, Florida is led by five-star freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard (7.3 pts, 6.6 assists) and sixth man Deaundrae Ballard (10.9 pts, 44 percent from 3). … Shooting guard Jalen Hudson, a 15 per-game scorer last season, lost his starting job and has averaged only 3 points across the last four games. Another senior guard, KeVaughn Allen, is scoring only 8.7 per game after three straight seasons averaging double-digits. … The Gators set the NCAA mark with nine players making 3s in last week’s win over North Florida. … They have suffered losses to Florida State, Oklahoma and Butler — teams off to a combined 17-4 start.
WVU skinny: Esa Ahmad (16.6 pts) has a steak of 10 consecutive double-figure scoring games dating back to last season. Sagaba Konate (14.8 pts, 8.2 rebs) came up one board shy of a double-double against Youngstown State in 17 minutes. … Lamont West (13.9 pts) and Beetle Bolden (13.4 pts) are the top 3-point shooters, though Konate has shown he can’t be ignored on the perimeter. … Brandon Knapper (4.7 pts, 42 percent from 3) could warrant more minutes at point guard but must improve his ratio of 21 assists to 15 turnovers. … Through seven games each, WVU has attempted 202 free throws to Florida’s 112. … Not since 2013 has West Virginia lost more than two regular-season nonconference games.
Allan Taylor’s pick: Billed as a top-25 matchup in the offseason, this game now feels like a pairing of future bubble teams. It’s essentially a pick ‘em, so I’ll pick the team with better guard play. That’s the Gators, 74-72
(Picks record straight up: 5-2. Against the spread: 5-2)