No. 1 Florida vs. No. 11 Dayton
5:09 p.m. Saturday, FedEx Forum, Memphis, TBS
Records: Florida, 35-2, 18-0; Dayton, 26-10, 10-6
Head to head
|Field goal pct.||46.4||46.5|
Florida: The Gators feature a physical, imposing front line led by seniors Patric Young (6-foot-9, 240 pounds) and Will Yeguette (6-8, 230). Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, 212), the SEC Sixth Man of the Year, joins freshman Chris Walker (6-10, 220) in giving the Gators an inside tandem that can score, rebound and alter shots.
Dayton: The Flyers will surrender significant size, other than center Matt Kavanaugh (6-10). Forwards Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre are quick, finesse players. The Flyers get rebounds from hustle, not bulk, and lack a true rim protector. Reserve F Jalen Robinson leads the team in blocks (13).
Edge: Florida. The Gators (plus-5 rebounding margin) should thrive inside. Dayton matched a taller Stanford team in rebounds, but Florida’s big men are much more athletic than Stanford’s.
Florida: Few teams can match Florida’s depth at point guard, where Scottie Wilbekin (13.1 ppg, 3.8 assists) and freshman Kasey Hill (5.6 ppg, 3.2 assists) are proven producers. Wilbekin, the SEC Player of the Year, can drive or bury perimeter jumpers. Michael Frazier II (12.7 ppg) is a 44.9 percent shooter from 3-point range.
Dayton: The Flyers like to operate in transition and play a lot of guards to keep fresh legs. Jordan Sibert (12.5 ppg), the team’s leading scorer, is the top threat from behind the arc (43.0 pct.). But the Flyers also get good production from Vee Sanford, Khari Price and Scoochie Smith. Dayton’s best physical matchup is here.
Edge: Florida. It’s far from a mismatch, but the Gators often use two point guards, Wilbekin and Hill, in tandem to minimize turnovers and maximize efficiency. Wilbekin has the jump shot to thrive as the off-guard in that set, giving the Gators a unique edge on most opponents.
Florida: The Gators love to press, which requires a nine-man rotation. Finney-Smith and Kasey Hill are the top bench assets.
Dayton: Few teams involved as many players as Dayton, which wore down a taller Stanford team with a 12-man rotation as the Flyers’ bench outscored Stanford’s 34-2. Nine players average double-digit minutes and 12 play at least 6.9 minutes per game.
Edge: Dayton. The Flyers attack opponents in waves. If they are to upset the Gators, they will have to maximize their biggest asset: an uncommonly deep, productive bench.
Florida: Gators coach Billy Donovan, in his 18th season at Florida, has won two national championships (2006, 2007) and is 34-11 in NCAA Tournament games. He is riding a 29-game winning streak, the longest in school history.
Dayton: Flyers coach Archie Miller, 35, is one of the game’s rising coaching stars. He is 63-37 in three seasons at Dayton. The younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller, Archie is making a name for himself in the college game, too.
Edge: Florida. Donovan ranks among today’s elite coaches and gives the Gators an edge as a sideline strategist that few schools can match.
Florida is the tournament’s top overall seed for multiple reasons. The Gators play suffocating defense, are efficient on offense, and are led by four seniors seeking their first Final Four trip. The Gators should extend their winning streak to 30 in a row, perhaps in double-digit fashion. — Jimmy Burch