As most of Baton Rouge sits in holiday (see: every day) traffic to get to their loved/preferred ones, the LSU Tigers (7-3) take on a familiar foe in the North Florida Ospreys (5-9).
This will be the third straight year in which LSU will play North Florida in the PMAC, and the Tigers are looking for a clean sweep. In 2015, we saw an NBA-like contest that saw LSU, led by a 43/14/7 performance from Ben Simmons, going into halftime down 56-46, but turn around for an incredible second half to win 119-108. In 2016, Antonio Blakeney led the Tigers with 20 points in a rough, 78-70 victory that saw a combined 46 fouls. The Ospreys never threatened the Tigers with their defense, and that trend should continue with tonight’s contest.
As bad as LSU’s defense has been, North Florida’s is even less organized, and they don’t have the offense to make up for it like 2015. According to KenPom, the Ospreys are ranked 274th overall, with a defensive adjusted efficiency ranking of 329th. Quick reminder that there are 351 teams in Division I basketball. For comparison’s sake, LSU’s defensive adjusted efficiency ranking is 243rd. There are only seven teams worse than North Florida at forcing turnovers.
For a quick schedule breakdown, their only win against a top 150 team was an overtime “upset” over Eastern Michigan. They started off the season with an 0-6 record, including losses to Mount St. Mary’s and Wofford, and are currently on a two game losing streak against Missouri and Ball State. The Ospreys are also playing without one of their top contributors in sophomore guard Garrett Sams, who was injured in their win over Florida International on December 13th. KenPom gives LSU a 92% chance of winning.
Projected North Florida Ospreys Starting 5
#21 G - Ivan Gandia-Rosa: 15.4ppg, 4.8apg, 32.4 minutes
#2 F - Wajid Aminu: 9.5ppg, 6.7rpg, 26.3 minutes
#0 F - Noah Horchler: 10.1ppg, 7.6rpg, 24.6 minutes
#10 G - Osborn Blount: 7.6ppg, 1.4apg, 22.9 minutes
#3 G - JT Escobar: 10.9ppg, 1.1apg, 28.9 minutes
Tonight’s contest will tip off in the PMAC at 7pm, and will be televised on the SEC Network+ via the WatchESPN app. You can also listen along on 98.1 FM, or follow/join the comments below. Since I’ll probably be stuck on the Basin at tip off, look no further than our very own Pod Katt for live tweets @valleyshook.