As an 11-seed, Dayton has had to pull an upset in each of their three NCAA Tournament games to reach the Elite Eight against Florida. On the other side, Florida has calmly dispatched of each opponent by double digits. Dayton is the sixth 11-seed to advance this far since the tournament expanded in 1985, and three of the previous teams advanced to the Final Four.
Key Match-up: Florida G Michael Frazier vs. Dayton G Jordan Sibert
One of the ways Dayton can attack Florida is by getting open looks from three-point range. While Florida is capable of defending anything, their strength is holding down the interior. Frazier and Sibert are the two outstanding shooters on their teams, as well as two of the best in NCAA basketball. Sibert shot 43 percent on 5.4 attempts per game this year, while Frazier put down 45 percent of his threes on almost seven attempts per game. Both of these players are capable of going off for a big game, and both did so in the Sweet 16.
Florida Notes: Florida, as the heavy favorite, needs to play ball the way their coach tells them. Big time upsets happen when underdogs force the action and set the tone, and if Florida gets behind early they will probably lose the crowd to their opponent. The Gators got 23 points off of their bench against UCLA, showing off some of their depth. Patric Young played only 20 minutes with foul trouble, and Florida still won on the glass. They can win a lot of ways, and they have a championship coach overseeing it all. They are also an immensely deep team. Billy Donovan will let his squad play ten men deep if he can find match-ups that favor him or a hot hand. Florida squeezed three offensive rebounds and 7 points out of the ninth man against UCLA.
Dayton Notes: Dayton has beaten a very good string of teams to get where they are. Victories over Ohio State, Syracuse, and Stanford as an underdog will make them the fan favorite going into their NCAA Elite Eight match-up against Florida. Stanford did them a favor by knocking off the No. 2 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the previous round. The only way to the top is to beat the best, and so Dayton now has to play against the No. 1 team in the entire country, Florida.
The Flyers scraped by their first two opponents by a combined three points. The important thing is that they won, but to beat Florida they will have to not only continue their strong defense but step their offense up as well. They have not shot well from the free throw line, and they absolutely cannot afford to leave points on the floor against such a good team.
Prediction: The last time an 11-seed played a 1-seed in the Elite Eight, VCU defeated top ranked Kansas to go to the Final Four. As an underdog Dayton will be the fan favorite, but betting against this Florida team’s physical advantages and talent would be silly. The Gators have rolled through each round of the NCAA tournament, and will continue to do so in the Elite Eight with the game ending Florida 71, Dayton 59.
Commentary by Brian Moore