Elite Eight: Florida 62, Dayton 52. About every other year we get a double digit seed in the Elite Eight. We like to see a good game, one that's in doubt late, if for no other reason than it allows for an incredible team/story to reach the Final Four. Most times, that doesn't happen, but remember how fun VCU and George Mason were? Even Wichita State, a No. 9 last year, was a thrill ride. But Dayton falls shy of sitting at that table. The 11-seed Flyers could not handle Florida, which is now 36-2 and winners of 30 straight -- a school record that continues to be renewed and improved with each win.
Florida is off to its fourth Final Four under Donovan and fifth in program history.
"This class of seniors, we've been on the other end of this for three years in a row, and we're just so thankful we've done it the right way this year," Florida's Pat Young said on TBS afterward. "This team was really invested and committed to each other. It's just unbelievable. It still hasn't hit me that we're in the Final Four."
The Gators got a challenge and rush from Dayton in the final minutes. Donovan's guys got a lead to 17 points, but Dayton made a push to get it to eight within two minutes. Still, Florida's size and ability to rebound its offensive misses allowed UF to keep Dayton at bay. Scottie Wilbekin, Florida's best player, finished with a game-high 23 points.
Dayton got had a team-high 18 points from Dyshawn Pierre. But Jordan Sibert did not score, and that was a plague on UD's chances. Archie Miller's team proved worthy of this run, and this will go down as one of the biggest two weeks of Dayton basketball ever. A good regular season began with a nice showing in Maui, where the Flyers beat Gonzaga and California. Those two wins would prove vital to getting Dayton into the NCAA Tournament, allowing them to give us one of the best stories for March of 2014. Vee Sanford, who hit the big shot to beat Dayton; Matt Kavanaugh, a necessary big man over the past four years; and Devin Oliver, crucial shooter and senior, are all done playing college basketball.
Now Florida goes on to the Final Four, still looking like the best team in college basketball. One down, three left to decide. -- Matt Norlander
Elite Eight: Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63. It was the only 1 vs. 2 regional final. It was a battle between two of the four highest-seeded teams left in the tournament. And it was a battle between two coaches looked to break through and get to the Final Four for the first time.
And it lived up to the hype. And more.
It was a game that deserved more than 40 minutes, and when Traevon Jackson's stepback jumper didn't fall at the end of regulation, that's exactly what we received. The extra session was back and forth, and Arizona had two chances to win it. Nick Johnson was called for an offensive foul with 3.2 seconds left, and after a turnover gave the Wildcats the ball back, Johnson didn't get his shot off in time.
It was punching and counter-punching all night, with neither team getting much separation at all after Wisconsin erased Arizona's early eight-point lead. Frank Kaminsky would hit a big shot, Nick Johnson would hit a big shot, Traevon Jackson would finish a layup, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would get a follow at the rim. It really was terrific basketball -- but the biggest factor ended up being Kaminsky down low. Arizona simply didn't have an answer for him. When Miller would go big with Kaleb Tarczewski, Kaminsky would bring him to the perimeter and either knock down a 3 or go off the dribble. When Arizona went small with Aaron Gordon, Kaminsky would go into the post or attack the offensive glass. He finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Johnson led Arizona for much of the night, scoring 16 points -- while Aaron Gordon grabbed 18 rebounds. The Wildcats suffer heartbreak on the doorstep of the Final Four once again, though, as that's now four straight Elite Eight losses for them.
Arizona has lost its last four Elite Eight games by an average of 1.8 points and gone to two overtimes.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 30, 2014
As for Bo Ryan, it's a heartwarming moment. He's never coached in a Final Four before, and he ended up winning his first Elite Eight game on what would have been his father's 90th birthday. Butch attended every Final Four with Bo, but passed away in August. Now Bo Ryan will get to honor his father by reaching his first Final Four.
Wisconsin will face the winner of Michigan vs. Kentucky. -- Jeff Borzello