The 2014 NCAA tournament is rapidly coming to a close, as the Elite Eight field is set and the games are tipping Saturday evening.
Before a champion can be crowned, the Final Four field must be determined. That will happen over two glorious evenings of college hoops action and it is something you don't want to miss.
Let’s take a look at the complete Elite Eight schedule, highlight where you can watch every matchup, check out my picks for each game and more.
|Region||Game||Time (ET)||TV||Predicted Winner|
|South||Dayton vs. Florida (-10)||6:09 p.m.||TBS||Florida|
|West||Wisconsin vs. Arizona (-3)||8:49 p.m.||TBS||Arizona|
|Midwest||Michigan vs. Kentucky (-2.5)||5:05 p.m.||CBS||Kentucky|
|East||UConn vs. Michigan State (-5.5)||2:20 p.m.||CBS||Michigan State|
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Sat 6:09: Florida vs Dayton Sat 8:49: Arizona vs Wisconsin Sun 2:20: Mich St vs UConn Sun 5:05: Michigan vs Kentucky pic.twitter.com/G5dfv4uf5F— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 29, 2014
Elite Eight Matchup to Watch: Florida vs. Dayton
There weren’t many expecting the Dayton Flyers to make this long of a run during March Madness, but the team defied expectations and now has a date with Florida, the No. 1 overall seed in the entire tournament.
The deep Flyers will do their best to fend off the hungry Gators in a matchup that most fans and the oddsmakers are predicting to be a blowout. While UF definitely has the tools to advance to the Final Four, it might not be as easy as you think.
Dayton is a loaded squad that plays up to 12 players in a game on a regular basis. The team is devoid of any true superstars and instead tends to feature whoever steps up during that particular contest.
That bench came through in a big way on Thursday, putting up 34 points against Stanford. It was 32 more than the opposition’s substitutes could muster, as per ESPN Stats & Info:
Dayton's bench outscored Stanford's bench 34-2— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 28, 2014
The Flyers’ constant rotation of starters and reserves is also major boon on defense. There are always fresh legs on the floor and it helps to tire out opponents that may only play seven or eight guys on a given night.
This depth completely overwhelmed Stanford, as the Cardinal players could not keep their heads above water against a surging defense, losing by double-digits in a Sweet 16 rout.
Which team will win?
Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins attempted to explain what happened after the stunning defeat, as per Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde: "They were relentless. That's the best way I can put it. They came in waves. They've got two players at every position."
Dayton will have to pick up the intensity even further if they hope to become the third No. 11 seed to make the Final Four since 2006. George Mason shocked the world that year, and VCU made a First Four-to-Final Four run in 2011.
Like those two Cinderella squads, the Flyers must go through a No. 1 seed in the regional finals and it is going to be immensely difficult. The Gators are on a mission to make a Final Four berth after being ousted in the Elite Eight three consecutive years.
With four seniors in the starting lineup, it is the last opportunity for members of this four-year class to hang a banner. They are playing with the intensity and desperation that only keen knowledge of that fact could bring.
Florida has been laser-focused all season long, having stitched together an 18-0 run in SEC play, a conference championship and now three straight double-digit victories in the Big Dance. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein noted the school hasn’t lost in 2013-14 while having a completely healthy roster:
Florida advances to the Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive year. Gators have still yet to lose a game this season when fully healthy.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 28, 2014
With no injuries to note, the Gators should be able to continue their unrelenting push to a championship. Dayton will make things interesting for a while, but ultimately UF will make a late run with the season on the line that will finally put the Flyers down.
Pick: Florida by six.