What a day of basketball we had yesterday. All four Sweet 16 games were decided by five points or less, and I'm pretty sure hundreds of remote controls were broken trying to go back and forth between the end of the Kentucky-Louisville and Michigan State-Virginia games.
But now we move forward in the tournament as two teams will be punching their tickets to the Final Four.
Will it be the two remaining top seeds? Will Bo Ryan and Wisconsin finally break through? Or will Dayton continue their Cinderella run?
SOUTH REGION - Memphis
(1) Florida vs. (11) Dayton - 6:09 p.m., TBS
Florida slid past a tough UCLA team Thursday night, while Dayton cruised through Stanford in a battle of double-digit seeds.
Florida's path to the Final Four seems to be the easiest out of the remaining teams, but the Flyers are no joke. They go 10 or 11 deep and are full of athletic wing players who can shoot from deep and attack the rim. Dayton likes to push the pace and get up and down the court to utilize their athleticism, which they've had a lot of success doing so far in this tournament.
The Gators have handled every test they've faced with great defense and balanced scoring, similar to Dayton, but offensively they like to get shots around the rim and work the ball into the post. They like to play fast as well, but it's a controlled up-tempo style, meaning that when point guard Scottie Wilbekin pushes the ball and nothing's there, the Gators don't mind backing it out and playing in the half court to get a good shot.
This game figures to be a fast-paced affair, but they key will be Dayton's defense. They're smaller than Florida and will likely have trouble with Patric Young & Co. in the middle, but they'll have to match the Gators' outstanding defensive effort to have any sort chance to win.
Prediction: Florida by 11. The Gators have made it to the Elite 8 in each of the last four seasons now, but they're still looking of their first trip to the Final Four in that stretch. This team is more talented than Dayton, has more size, but still has the athletes to matchup with all of the Flyers' wing players. The only way I see Dayton being close to winning at the end is if Archie Miller massively out-coaches Bill Donovan, which is extremely hard to do.
WEST REGION - Anaheim
In the tournament's only classic one-vs-two matchup, we get Arizona and Wisconsin. The Wildcats made a late surge in the second half to come back and beat San Diego State, while the Badgers absolutely took it to Baylor and blew them out before halftime.
Wisconsin used a great shooting game to get past Baylor and their zone, highlighting what makes this Bo Ryan team different from others that he's had - they're actually good on offense. Their defense isn't up to usual Wisconsin levels, but this team does have the ability to put points on the board from all five positions on the floor.
On the other hand, Arizona is a team that can struggle to score at times, but they might be the best defensive team left in the tournament since Virginia lost. The Wildcats' biggest asset is their massive front line, led by freshman Aaron Gordon, but they do have solid backcourt play led by senior Nick Johnson.
The key to this game will be whether Wisconsin's perimeter-oriented attack wins out, or if Arizona can dominate in the post. Both teams like to play a more methodical game, but the game will be very well played between these two very good teams.
Prediction: Arizona by 4. Both teams are very worthy of making the Final Four, but Arizona just has a little bit more talent than the Badgers. While their frontcourt gets most of the notoriety, the Wildcats' backcourt of Johnson and point guard T.J. McConnell can hold their own against anyone in the country. That diversity in their attack will ultimately lead them to a close win and a Final Four berth.
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