Saturday, March 29, 2014

NCAA Tournament, Day 7

Florida 62 - Dayton 52

Dayton shot the ball well from behind the arc (8-for-18), and this weapon allowed them to take an early lead and stay tight for most of the first half. Florida's size was giving the Flyers problems, but the Gators weren't able to assert themselves on offense.

That all changed with about 3 minutes to play in the first half, as the floodgates finally opened. What was a 3-point UF lead with 3:11 to play in the first half became a 14-point advantage by halftime.

In the second half, Florida's size took over. The Gators kept Dayton out of the paint, leading to a 28-to-8 UF advantage in free throw attempts, and they pounded the Flyers on the offensive glass (12-to-5 edge for Florida). In fact, if Florida had anything resembling rhythm offensively in the second half, the second half would have been a Gator walk in the park. At least twice in the last 3 minutes of the game, Florida had 3+ shot attempts on a possession that ended in zero points.

Fortunately for the Gators, their defense kept Dayton from taking advantage of their frequent cold spells. And so Florida is the first team to punch its ticket to the 2014 Final Four.

Wisconsin 64 - Arizona 63 (OT)

Well, Sean Miller has now lost to a lower seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This felt like a Wisconsin game for at least the last 30 minutes of game time. Wisconsin executed their sets and got good looks. Arizona needed their athleticism to keep their offense off of life support, whether it was via offensive rebounds or pushing the pace.

At the beginning of the game it looked like Arizona was going to be the first Wisconsin opponent to have any sort of answer for UW's 7-footer with three-point range, Frank Kaminsky. But that wasn't true, as Kaminsky ended the game with 28 points and forced Arizona's coach to try all sorts of matchups to slow him down. It didn't work, which made Wisconsin's decision to not get him the ball on the last possession of regulation curious.

This is the first close game I can remember in this tournament where the referees really weren't up to snuff. I thought Wisconsin got the short end of the stick all night with the calls. Then the referees ended Arizona's second-to-last offensive possession in OT (with AZ down by one), with a very debatable offensive foul call. And then they took over 5 minutes to decide an out-of-bounds play (where they admittedly had no clear view) with 2.3 seconds left in the game, and it's debatable whether or not they got the call right. This isn't meant to say Arizona got robbed, they didn't. But the officials were too big a part of the story in this otherwise classic matchup.

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