Florida vs. Michigan: Keys to Victory for Gators in Elite 8 Battle

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2013

Mar 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton (1) celebrates a play with Will Yeguete (15) and Patric Young (4) against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the first half during the semifinals of the South regional of the 2013 NCAA Tournament at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Florida is just a game away from the Final Four.

A win against the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday will put Billy Donovan and the Gators in the national semifinals for the first time since they capped off back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

This is far and away the most difficult game Florida has had in the tournament. The lowest seed the Gators have faced is the 11th-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers.

They'll need everything in their arsenal to get past the Wolverines. Should Florida follow these three keys, it will be just fine.


Don't Let Kenny Boynton Shoot You Out of It

Kenny Boynton is a fearless shooter. Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing for a player. When that player happens to shoot an average of 39.2 percent from the field, that can be a huge problem.

In Florida's seven losses this year, he's only been a 32.9 percent shooter compared to 40.8 in the Gators' 29 wins.

More times than Gators fans would like to remember, Boynton's shot selection has hurt Florida. He'll make you wonder what in the world drove him to attempting a field goal that had almost no chance of going down.

The Gators can't let Boynton shoot them out of another game. He's gotten a little better reining in his shot selection over the last week or so.


Take Advantage of a Slow Start from Trey Burke

The first half has not been kind to Trey Burke in the tournament. He wasn't very good against South Dakota State in the round of 64, and it was much the same against Kansas in the Sweet 16.

Luckily for the Wolverines, Burke found his stroke the second half, and they managed to come out with victories.

Florida can't let that happen again. Should Burke begin the game with a few misses, the Gators need to jump out to a lead and not let it go.

They let Florida Gulf Coast get out to an early lead before eventually going on a huge run and taking the game over. As much as the Eagles fought, there never looked to be a way back because of how well the Gators defense was playing.


Utilize Will Yeguete on Defense Again

In order to get a similar defensive performance, Will Yeguete will have to be the defensive spark. When he came on the floor, FGCU found itself in trouble. Yeguete was one of the driving forces behind the Eagles' 20 turnovers.

With the kind of perimeter players on Michigan, it's going to be imperative for the Gators to get out and lock down on shooters like Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas.

Defense has been the calling card of Florida all season. It's held opponents to just 53.7 points a game on 37.9 percent shooting. Yeguete will need to be flying around the court on the defensive end once again in order to corral the Wolverines offense.


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