Florida vs. Dayton
March 29, 2014
By Brian Edwards
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MEMPHIS -- For the fourth consecutive season, Florida (35-2 straight up, 18-14-1 against the spread) is one game away from the Final Four. In its three previous trips to the Elite Eight, Billy Donovan's team came up short.
In 2011 at the South Region finals in New Orleans, UF allowed a double-digit lead midway through the second half to get away in an overtime loss to Butler. The Gators had to check into the Heartbreak Hotel in St. Louis again the next year. Yet again, they blew a double-digit second-half advantage and lost a nail-biter to Louisville.
There was no gut-wrenching loss against Michigan in Dallas at last year's South Region finals. It was just a straight-up beatdown for the Gators from the Wolverines, who cruised to a blowout win behind the hot shooting of Nik Stauskas from 3-point range.
UF handed UCLA a pink slip from the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time since 2006 on Thursday night at FedEx Forum in Memphis. The Gators were in control from start to finish en route to a 79-68 win as 4.5-point favorites. The 147 combined points jumped 'over' the 139.5-point total.
Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was the catalyst with a game-high 19 points to go with six rebounds and three assists. Frazier drained 5-of-8 from 3-point range and hit four straight treys at one points in the first half.
Scottie Wilbekin added 13 points and three assists without committing a turnover. Casey Prather was also in double figures with 12 points, while Dorian Finney-Smith finished with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot.
Jordan Adams paced the Bruins in the losing effort with a team-best 17 points. Kyle Anderson contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals, but he was forced into a mediocre 4-of-11 shooting night mostly due to solid defense from Finney-Smith.
As of early Saturday morning, most books had Florida installed as a 10-point favorite with a total of 132.5. Gamblers can take the Flyers to win outright for a monster +490 return (risk $100 to win $490). For first-half bets, Florida is favored by six with a total of 61.5.
Dayton (26-10 SU, 20-12 ATS) got to the South Region semifinals by winning twice by three combined points against Ohio State and Syracuse in Buffalo. Then on Thursday night in Memphis, Archie Miller's squad raced out to an early double-digit advantage and cruised to an 82-72 victory as a 3.5-point underdog. The Flyers hooked up money-line backers with a +135 return.
Jordan Sibert hit four treys and led a quartet of Dayton players in double figures with 18 points. Devin Oliver added 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
UD has thrived as an underdog this season. In 12 such spots, the Flyers are 10-2 ATS with nine outright wins. Assuming the number holds, this will be Dayton's first double-digit 'dog spot of the year. The Flyers' richest previous games as 'dogs were catching 8.5 in a pair of outright wins over Gonzaga and Syracuse.
Again, if the number holds, Florida will be a double-digit 'chalk' for the 16th time. The Gators are 7-7-1 ATS as double-digit favorites.
The 'over' is 17-14 overall for Dayton.
The 'under' has been a steady money maker in UF games all season long, cashing at a 21-11-1 overall clip.
Dayton-Florida will tip at 6:05 p.m. Eastern on TBS.
**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**
-- If Florida can get past Dayton, it has all sorts of potential revenge matchups as possibilities in Dallas. The only teams that have beaten UF this year -- UConn and Wisconsin -- are still alive in the Elite Eight. Michigan, which demolished the Gators in Dallas last year, is in the Midwest Region finals. There's Louisville (pending result with Kentucky), which sent UF packing two years ago. And there's Michigan St. (pending result with Virginia), which beat Florida in the 2000 finals and ousted them in Tampa in a second-round showdown more than a decade ago.
-- Pat Young and Casey Prather should have fresh legs after being limited to 20 and 19 minutes, respectively, versus UCLA.
-- Some offshore shops have posted proposition bets. For instance, the 'over/under' for Wilbekin's points is 13.5 (-110 either way). Frazier's total for points is 11.5 and I'm bullish on that to go 'over.'
--I n an epic thriller in Indianapolis, Kentucky rallied to beat Louisville 74-69 as a 4.5-point underdog. The Wildcats advanced to the Midwest Region finals where they will face Michigan.
-- Michigan held off Tennessee to capture a 73-71 as a two-point favorite. For sharp bettors that got on Michigan at -1.5 early in the week, Nik Stauskas's missed free throw in the final seconds didn't hurt them. The Volunteers took advantage of four consecutive Michigan turnovers at crunch time to rally and have a chance at the end. However, a controversial charging call on Jarnell Stokes was the difference in the game. Several things here that should be noted. If the ref lets 'em play and doesn't blow the whistle, Caris LaVert had a steal for Michigan. On the flip side, if a block is called (that would've been equally as shaky a whistle, by the way), Stokes goes to the line for two shots trailing by one. But the main point is that UT caught a monster break when a replay review inexplicably gave the Vols the ball when it was clear that Jeronne Maymon knocked a loose ball out of bounds. And that was the call that preceded UT's furious rally.
-- Why is Michigan still alive? Jordan Morgan! He had 15 points and 10 boards in outplaying Texas's highly-touted 'bigs' (Cameron Ridley and Johnathan Holmes) last week. Then Morgan went for 15 and seven against Maymon and Stokes, who had his least-productive game of the tourney (11 and six).
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