Day 1 of the Elite Eight lived up to the hype, as Cinderellas put up a strong fight, and teams punched tickets to the Final Four through gritty performances.
Dayton was unable to keep its miracle run going in the face of the No. 1 team in the land, but the tense action until the final seconds is surely a strong preview of what Day 2 of the Elite Eight has in store. In the interim, an experienced Florida squad gets to rest while it breaks down its next opponent.
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Here's a look at how the day's events played out:
|South||Dayton vs. Florida||Florida 62, Dayton 52|
|West||Wisconsin vs. Arizona||Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63|
Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63
The Elite Eight went out bang on Saturday night as Wisconsin and Arizona took part in an overtime classic.
ESPN puts the historical weight of the bout into perspective:
This is the 7th OT game of the tourney, tied for the most in a single NCAA Tournament.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2014
The Arizona-Wisconsin game was the 12th time an Elite 8 game was decided by 1 points. History, folks.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2014
Arizona played a strong game overall with three players in double digits, but five misses at the charity stripe sure look bad now. With the game going back and forth until the very end, a questionable charge call when Arizona had a chance to win in overtime marred the ending.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman was one of many irritated with the call:
Charge? Extremely debatable.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 30, 2014
Regardless, the fact the Wildcats had no answer for Frank Kaminsky and his 28 points on 11 of 20 shooting from the field negates any complaints. Wisconsin won a heavyweight bout that could have went either way, primary because of Wildcats mistakes and an inability to alter the gameplan to shut down the Badgers' best player.
Florida 62, Dayton 52
Credit where it's due—the Dayton Flyers never stopped fighting.
Dayton kept the game close for much of the first half, but things came unraveled in the second as the athleticism advantage eventually took over. But as Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde illustrates, the Flyers stayed in the brawl until the bitter end:
This has become a bar fight. Florida not making any shots but getting every rebound. Dayton battling for all it's worth. Will not submit.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 30, 2014
Florida hit on a dry spell late in the second half, with things getting as bad as a 1-of-14 mark from the field, but the Gators were simply more athletic and powerful down low. CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello puts it best:
Six offensive rebounds in the last two possessions for Florida. Dayton has had the ball for 27 seconds since the 5:45 mark.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 30, 2014
The Gators wound up with a 37-26 advantage on the glass, which did much to help counteract the fact they shot 37.5 percent overall from the field. Three players scored in double figures, led by Scottie Wilbekin's 23 points.
Dayton predictably lit it up from long range by shooting 44.4 percent from behind the arc, but the disadvantage down low, combined with nine turnovers and 19 fouls, ultimately doomed the Flyers.
Florida advances to the Final Four for the fourth year in a row, and the experienced team understands—as explained by center Patric Young after the game—that this time has to be different:
Patric Young: "We've been on the other end of this three years in a row."— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 30, 2014
This time, the Gators get the winner of Michigan State and Connecticut, so another heavyweight bout is in the cards. Given the wealth of experience Billy Donovan's team takes into the contest, the Gators stand a good chance of earning a shot at the title.