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Tale of the tape

Round Of 8 Matchup: #11 Dayton Vs. #1 Florida

By Shawn S. Lealos

This is the Elite Eight matchup that all eyes will be on. The Florida Gators come in as the top overall seed in the entire tournament while the Dayton Flyers are the Cinderella team, an underdog for the fans to cheer on. An 11-seed taking on a one-seed should not be close, but with wins over Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford, this is a Flyers team that believes they can win.

(credit: Elsa/Getty Images) (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(credit: Elsa/Getty Images) (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

#11 Dayton

#1 Florida

Archie Miller has worked wonders with Dayton, and matches his brother Sean (Arizona) when it comes to making it to the Elite Eight. In only his third year with Dayton, he has them playing as well as anyone in the tournament. With the huge upsets they pulled off so far, it looks like they can keep up with Florida. Coaching Billy Donovan has his team in a familiar position. They are undefeated since Dec. 2 and this is the team’s fourth straight Elite Eight appearance. Here is where things get tricky: Florida has not made it past the Elite Eight in any of those seasons, and haven’t since they won the national title in 2007.
After shooting 41 percent in their first two NCAA tournament wins and only averaging 57.5 points in the two wins, Dayton scored 82 points against Stanford while hitting 48.3 percent of their shots. Jordan Sibert led the way with 18 points, while four Flyers players scored in double digits. This was against a Top 40 Stanford defense that shut down Kansas. Offense The Gators looked really good against Pittsburgh, but only average against Albany. Against UCLA, they scored an impressive 82 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, led by Michael Frazier II, who hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points. It was marked improvement that might show that Florida plays up to the competition.
Stanford scored 72 points against the Dayton defense, and if the Flyers hadn’t been shooting so well, this could have had a different outcome. The Flyers couldn’t stop Stanford’s center Stefan Nastic, and they gave up 21 points to guard Chasson Randle. They will have to play much better against the Gators. Defense The third ranked Florida defense held the 12th ranked UCLA offense to 42.2 percent shooting and only 16.7 percent from beyond the arc. The Gators have won 29 straight games and they win based on defense, one that can beat anyone on any day. If the Flyers want to move on in the tournament, they will have to score on one of the best units in the nation.
Vee Sanford, the best sixth man through the first two games, did not play well against Stanford, missing all four shots he attempted and only scoring four points with five rebounds in the game. Kendall Pollard picked up the slack with 12 points. Dayton has a lot of weapons they use on this bench. Bench Depth Dorian Finney-Smith scored 10 points with six rebounds and Kasey Hill added six points with six rebounds as well. This gave the Gators some nice numbers from their bench against UCLA.

We'll just call it a tie

(credit: Elsa/Getty Images) (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Do the Dayton Flyers have a chance to beat the Florida Gators? The odds are long and the Gators look to have the best chance to move to their first Final Four since 2007, but the Flyers have been counted out all tournament. After knocking off two of the better teams in the tournament and then beating a solid Stanford, the Flyers believe they can beat anybody. While Florida will be favored, fans of underdogs have the Dayton Flyers to cheer for this year. Florida should win by double digits, but don’t tell Dayton.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience in the media He covers all things college basketball. Find his work at Examiner.com.

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