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Pick on the Spread for East Carolina-Florida on December 14

VSiN’s Greg Peterson goes over the best betting options for Thursday’s college basketball matchup between the East Carolina Pirates and Florida Gators

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NCAA Basketball: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators will play their second straight game on Tuesday in the state of Florida, but outside of the city of Gainesville as they prepare to play the East Carolina Pirates in Lakeland on Thursday.

East Carolina Pirates vs. Florida Gators (-15.5, 153)

The biggest weakness for either team in this matchup is Eastern Carolina’s defense, as the Pirates entered Wednesday ranked 241st in the nation in points allowed per possession, but seem to have figured things out on that end of the floor.

East Carolina enters Thursday having allowed 68 points or fewer in each of their past three games, allowing 16.2 points per 100 possessions fewer in this stretch than in their first seven games of the season.

The improved defense of the Pirates will be put to the test by a Florida team who’s best offense has been through second chances, as the Gators are getting an offensive rebound on 40.9% of their missed shots, which ranks fifth among Division I teams.

The Pirates counter with each of their top three scorers pulling in at least 5.8 rebounds per game and as a team, East Carolina is 36th in offensive rebound rate with grabbing 34.1% of their missed shots as an offensive rebound while allowing opponents to rebound just 24.2% of their misses as an offensive rebound.

The addition of Kansas guard Bobby Pettiford has helped Eastern Carolina be more efficient on offense as well, leading the team in assists with averages of 9.8 points and 3.7 assists per game while committing more than two turnovers in just one of the team’s 10 games this season.

East Carolina ranks 65th in the country in turnovers per possession while Florida is 196th in this category and with Pettiford’s increase in scoring to 13.2 points per game the past five games, the Pirates have a chance to steal a win in the Sunshine State.

The Play: Eastern Carolina +15.5