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March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (1) Florida vs. (11) Dayton

A breakdown of Florida-Dayton’s matchup in the Elite Eight and a chance to vote on who you think will win!

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Dayton Flyers
The Flyers’ defense made life extremely difficult Stanford’s Chasson Randle, who needed 21 shots to score 21 points, as they kept their magical season alive with an 82-72 Sweet 16 victory. Twelve different players saw the court for the Flyers and 11 of them scored. Stanford had to go deep into their bench as well as there was a combined 59 free throws attempted. However, they didn’t receive anywhere near the same type of production the Flyers did. In fact, their reserves went without a field goal, scoring only two points total. Jordan Sibert scored a team high 18 for the Flyers, which included 4-9 shooting from beyond the arc. With the regional title on the line the Flyers will look to pull off their biggest upset yet against the top overall seed in the Florida Gators. They bring a defense unlike anything the Flyers have gone up against in the tournament so far. The Flyers are going to have to be patient and smart with how they attack. They can’t get sped up by the Gators’ pressure, especially when they implement it in the fullcourt. Balance has been a major key for the Flyers all season long and they’ll need multiple contributors offensively once again, but they’re also going to need at least a player or two to go above their average – much like Sibert did.

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Florida Gators    
Going up against one of the top offensive teams in the country, the Gators gave another testament to the adage defense wins championships. They allowed only three triples and held UCLA to below 70 for just the second time since late January as they punched their ticket to the Elite Eight 79-68. You would have thought it was the Gators who came in with the top-ranked offense as they shot 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from distance while only making seven unassisted field goals. Four Gators scored in double figures, with Michael Frazier II’s 19 leading the way. The Gators’ bench made a major difference in this ballgame. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill dished out 10 assists in 28 minutes, while also scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds. Fellow freshman Chris Walker also provided an intriguing boost, giving the team seven points, three offensive rebounds and a block in six minutes of action. Sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith played the most minutes of any reserve, though, and made his impact felt in just about every area. In the Elite Eight they’ll face Dayton, one of the surprise teams still remaining in the field. The Flyers have become this year’s Cinderella thanks to their team approach on both ends of the floor. They’re a team with no stars, but the Gators will provide far and away their most difficult challenge of the season. If the Gators convincingly win the battle of the boards again and get another strong effort from their bench, the Flyers’ impressive run will only have 40 minutes left in it.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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