It’s tough to want to feel bad for those hoping to see a powerhouse battle between Florida and the likes of either Kansas or Syracuse for the right to go to Dallas. The 1-seed in the South will dance into the Elite Eight, but the Tournament’s Cinderella awaits after Archie Miller and the Dayton Flyers became the first team to punch its ticket to the Regional Final on Thursday evening with a win over Stanford. While the spread doesn’t suggest this will be a very competitive game, Dayton brings a full head of confidence into a game it thinks it will win. And the Flyers are getting 10.5 points against the Gators.
No team left in the Tournament is moving the ball like Dayton is and has been in the first three games. Coming into the Big Dance, it was Dayton’s offense that made it a formidable upset candidate. And two weeks in, it’s been Dayton’s offensive proficiency that’s let the Flyers ascend to the Elite Eight. Dayton’s offense has three main component that intertwine to make it so tough. Aside from that excellent ball movement, Dayton’s offense is balanced and doesn’t have a single player that the defense can focus on stopping. The Flyers constantly have five players on the floor that can shoot, pass and dribble, which is often a rarity in college basketball, even at this junction of the NCAA Tournament. Whether it be Jordan Sibert, Derek Oliver, Vee Sanford or someone else, Dayton’s scoring comes from all different crevasses of the roster, and the floor. This means that it’s nearly impossible for the opposing defense to actually lock onto a single player or two and stop the Flyers with a couple main stoppers.
Fortunately for Florida, it might have the most well-rounded team defense in the country and has the potential to matchup with Archie Miller’s offense. Billy Donovan’s team plays with a tremendous sense of team defense, and a tremendous sense of team in general. Put it this way: the Gators have the SEC Coach of the Year (Donovan), the SEC Player of the Year (Wilbekin), the SEC Defender of the Year (Young), the SEC Sixth Man of the Year (Young), Michael Frazier broke the school’s three-point record this year and then there was Casey Prather, who led the team in scoring. Florida is one of the great teams we’ve seen in college hoops in a while – maybe since the Florida teams of 2007 and 2008. I think UF gets this done but I’ll give Dayton the benefit of the doubt with the double-digits.