Head coach Billy Donovan is in his 16th season as the head coach of Florida, and while his team is immensely talented, it was selected to finish third in the SEC behind Kentucky and Vanderbilt. His team is trying to replace productive big men Alex Tyus, Chandler Parsons, and Vernon Macklin, but it has maybe the most talented collection of guards in the country.
He may be the smallest player on the roster at 5-foot-8, 177-pounds, but guard Erving Walker is big on game. A preseason Second Team All-SEC selection after earning the same distinction as a junior and a sophomore, Walker is third on the team with a scoring average of 14.1 points in 28.3 minutes per game.
While he's a productive scorer, he's also a great distributor as evidenced by his team leading 5.3 assists per outing. Maybe even more impressive is that despite his limited stature, his four rebounds per contest are good for fourth on the team.
UA's guards need to defend Walker well past the three-point line and prevent him from getting open looks, as he can be one of the better scorers in the country if he gets into a rhythm. It's much easier for him to get open and get easy looks with the type of talent he has around him.
The team's leading scorer through seven games is 6-foot-2, 189-pound guard Kenny Boynton, who after a tough freshman year is fully living up to the hype after being a McDonald's All-American and the nation's number 15 player in the class of 2009. He was a Second Team All-SEC selection as a sophomore and he's a Second Team All-SEC preseason selection heading into this year.
Boynton has been remarkably effective while getting his 19 points per game, shooting 51.1 percent from the field and a staggering 47.3 percent from beyond the arc. In 29.4 minutes per game, he ranks only behind Walker is assists with 3.1 per contest. Like Walker, Boynton is deadly when he gets into a rhythm and will look to capitalize on any and all openings he may get.
Walker and Boynton are in their third season in the backcourt together at Florida, and in 2011-12 they are bringing a very talented freshman in Bradley Beal, Scout.com's number seven overall player in the class of 2011 and a McDonald's All-American.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound freshman came to Gainesville as a highly touted player and so far in his career he's living up to the billing. He's the team's second leading scorer and rebounder with 15.6 points and seven rebounds in a team leading 33.3 minutes per game.
Beal has done well putting points on the board, connecting on 46.8 percent of his field goal attempts, but he's not the three-point threat that Walker and Boynton are. Nevertheless, he's been one of the best freshmen in the country this season and his matchup against Nick Johnson is going to be a very exciting one.
Florida may get a boost from the return of Erik Murphy, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound junior who missed the team's last three games with minor tears in his meniscus. Before going down, Murphy, a former teammate of Arizona signee Kaleb Tarczewski and older brother of Duke freshman Alex Murphy, was averaging 10 points and four rebounds in 20.8 minutes and had connected on 57.1 percent of his three-point tries.
If he's unable to go, 6-foot-7, 222-pound sophomore Will Yeguete will likely get the start in his place. In 20.8 minutes, Yeguete is averaging 6.8 points and is second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per game. He's not the perimeter threat that Murphy is, but he is a useful player on the interior for a team with such outstanding guard play.
The fifth and final starter for the Gators is 6-foot-9, 247-pound sophomore Patric Young, who came to Florida after being a McDonald's All-American and the nation's 15th ranked player in the class of 2010. An All-SEC Freshman Team selection a season ago, Young is fifth on the team in scoring at 9.6 points per contest and is UF's leading rebounder with an average 7.3 boards.
Young just continues to improve, and after a summer playing on the U19 USA team at the FIBA World Championships, his game has come a long way in the offseason. He's a super athletic post player that really runs the floor well and uses his size effectively, posing a tough challenge for Arizona on the interior.
Off the bench, Donovan has a very productive player in Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, who is one of the better sixth men in the country. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound junior is the team's fourth leading scorer at 10.6 points per game despite getting just 18.1 minutes off the bench. He's been deadly from three-point range, hitting on 45.9 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.
Aside from Rosario, there's not a lot of scoring off the bench for Florida. Casey Prather, a 6-foot-6, 212-pound guard/forward, averages just three points in 10.4 minutes and Scott Wilbekin, a 6-foot-2, 178-pound sophomore, puts up just 2.4 points in 15.6 minutes per game. He is a presence in the passing lanes, averaging nearly two steals per contest despite the limited playing time.
Finally, Cody Larson, a 6-foot-9, 231-pound redshirt-freshman, will provide some relief in the front court, but only averages about nine minutes per outing.
Florida is without question the most talented team Arizona will face this season, and a victory on the road will be one of the taller tasks it faces this season. These two teams are very similar in terms of their personnel, and it will be an opportunity for UA to prove itself against one of the nation's top teams.