Florida had its toughest opponent yet when they faced UCLA in their Sweet 16 matchup. They had been steady but not overly impressive in their first two wins vs. Albany and Pittsburgh. They did more of the same in this game, they held a slim 6-point halftime lead and put up 43 second half points for a 79-68 win. Again they were not dominant, however it never seemed like the game was ever in doubt. They are the perfect example of team basketball. Star guard Scottie Wilbekin carried the team down the stretch and scored the clutch baskets, however he struggled for most of the game and his teammates were there to carry the load. They haven’t dominated like the top seed in the tournament, however they have the look of a team that can turn it on at anytime. Dayton has been the biggest surprise of the tournament so far. They showed that they have true grit and determination in their wins over Ohio State and Syracuse. Their sweet 16 win vs. Stanford showed that they also have an ability to play with a lead and hold off an opponent. They had a ten point halftime lead and then proceeded to play an even second half of 40 -40 for an 82-72 win. They are a transition team and like to play at a faster pace than most teams. They outscored Stanford by 15 points on fast-break points.
The Flyers have one advantage over every other team left in the dance in that they have a deep and productive bench. Their bench outscored Stanford’s 34-2 and was the biggest difference in the win. Junior Jordan Sibert scored 18 points on 7-12 shooting, including making 4 three pointers. Reserve Kendall Pollard came off the bench for 12 points. Forward Devin Oliver had 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Big Man Matt Kavanaugh was hampered by foul trouble but still chipped in 10 points and 2 steals.
Florida is known for controlling the tempo in their games. The UCLA game was a great example, UCLA is a fast paced team who had 23 transition points in the first 30 minutes, however they were held without a transition point in the last 10 minutes. Guard Michael Frazier had team high 19 points to go with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Wilbekin was finished with 13 points after struggling all game long. Casey Prather kicked in 12 points while reserve forward Dorian Finney Smith had 10 points. This marks the fourth consecutive final four that these seniors have been to. This will be their last chance to advance to the final four as they have lost in all previous Elite 8 tries.
This is a true David and Goliath matchup. Dayton has been an underdog in every game thus far and this will be no different. They will need to find their transition game and score points in the open floor if they want to hang around. Florida is a deep and patient team that will look to wear The Flyers out. If Dayton can keep it close and be within striking distance in the closing minutes they have shown to be fearless and not afraid of the big moment.
Check out 2014 March Madness Odds updated daily.
Betting Odds Source, March 18, 2014: Opening betting line from Bovada Sportsbook. NCAA Basketball odds adjust in real time. Looking for a US Sportsbook for March Madness Betting: BetOnline Sportsbook Review. Bovada betting, sports betting online For a NBA betting odds tutorial click here betting odds explained. For help with depositing at US Sportsbooks check our tips at sports books that accept prepaid gift cards. March Madness Sportsbook and March Madness Future Odds