Championship Rematch

The jerseys will still say Florida and Ohio State on the front and it's still basketball, five to a side.

But Saturday's rematch between the Gators and Buckeyes is as far away from their showdown in last year's national championship game as an NBA player's salary is from a college kid's meager checking account.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Ohio State -5.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Florida +5.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Florida (11-1) comes in brimming with confidence. Ohio State (7-3) has an inferiority complex. Both might be wrong about how good they are or aren't.

``They're naively confident, if that makes sense,'' coach Billy Donovan said of his Gators. ``They think they're good players, a good team. But I don't think they've seen enough. We haven't lined up against a top-five team.''

Florida has yet to even leave the state's borders. Imagine the shock when the young Gators get off their plane and feel the snow and cold temperatures in Columbus.

Then imagine what it'll be like when they step before a sold-out Value City Arena crowd that will be especially hostile. Florida broke a lot of Buckeyes hearts in last year's Bowl Championship Series national title game (a 41-14 rout) and this past spring's basketball final (an 84-75 win that gave the Gators a second consecutive title).

There's a distinct feeling among Ohio State fans that the Gators deserve a little payback.

``We don't even think about that,'' Gators junior guard Walter Hodge said of the rematch. ``We're past that. Maybe they're going to think about that, revenge and all that. But that's in the past.

``We have the banner over here. That's not going anywhere.''

Both lineups are mere shadows of what was on the floor in the title game last April in Atlanta. Florida lost Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer - all NBA lottery picks - along with Taurean Green, Chris Richard and Lee Humphrey while Ohio State is without No. 1 pick Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook - also first-round picks - in addition to seniors Ron Lewis and Ivan Harris.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta believes the 2007 championship game will be remembered for years to come.

``What was it, eight guys were drafted from that game?'' he said. ``Without a doubt that championship game is going to go down as one of the most talented ever.''

Those left behind have taken different roads to this point. Florida has been coaxed along with no major road tests or ranked opponents. Ohio State has had a brutal schedule, including games with North Carolina, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Butler.

No wonder the Buckeyes, who have holdover Jamar Butler along with two freshmen in the starting lineup, have been searching to find themselves.

``We've had the fortune or misfortune that we've played in a lot of big ballgames this year,'' Matta said. ``Time always tells, but we've been able to draw from those games. From a coaching perspective, that helps you. It doesn't help your sleep pattern at night, but it does helps you.''

Florida goes with a lineup that includes freshmen Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas, sophomores Dan Werner and Marreese Speights, along with Hodge. Donovan welcomes the game as a chance to get his players' attention.

``We're a group right now that has no clue of what's coming,'' he said. ``We're going to find out a little bit more.

``I want to see the air of belief when they get punched right in the teeth or right in the mouth and they get backed up. Do we still keep that air of confidence and do we still keep that air of belief? That's what I think the key to our team is right now. How do we respond to adversity when our confidence gets rattled or shattered a little bit and we get hit?''

It's a new year, with new problems and new possibilities on both sides.

``We're a completely different team. They're a completely different team,'' Florida freshman Chandler Parsons said. ``So all the games that have been played in the past few years - football and the national championship in basketball - it feels like that wasn't even our team. That was the University of Florida, but we're going in there with a whole new look and they've got a whole new look.''

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

More NCAA College Basketball Coverage from

 - NCAA College Basketball teams
 - NCAA College Basketball standings
 - NCAA College Basketball schedule
 - NCAA College Basketball scoreboard
 - NCAA College Basketball injuries
 - NCAA College Basketball matchups
 - NCAA College Basketball stats
 - NCAA College Basketball odds
 - NCAA College Basketball public betting chart
 - NCAA College Basketball news wire
 - NCAA College Basketball top stories
 - NCAA College Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NCAA College Basketball predictions
 - Expert NCAA College Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for daily newsletter
 - NCAA College Basketball Home

NCAAB Top Stories

Thumbnail USC vs. Vanderbilt Pick Can No. 10 USC go on the road and cover the spread against Vanderbilt when the two collide...
Thumbnail South Florida vs. Indiana Prediction Is the under a good bet to cash this evening when the Indiana Hoosiers host the South Florida Bulls at 6:00 p.m. ET? Let's dive into the...
Thumbnail Wisconsin vs. Xavier Pick Will No. 15 Xavier be able to go on the road and pick up a small upset when the Musketeers take on Wisconsin 8:30PM...
Thumbnail Creighton vs. Northwestern Pick Will No. 20 Northwestern overcome a tough challenge at home when the Wildcats host ...
Thumbnail Indiana vs. Seton Hall Picks Can Indiana go on the road and pose a challenge to No. 22 Seton Hall when the two teams meet up tonight at 6:30PM...

NCAAB Headlines

NCAAB Team Pages