No matter what happens this weekend, eight teams get to claim that they were elite this year. Well, at least they get to say they reached the Elite Eight.
With four teams set to do battle on Saturday, we'll take a look at the two matchups and provide you all the information you'll need to ensure you don't miss a dunk, steal or crazy celebratory dance. Will top seeds in Florida and Arizona advance? Or will a Cinderella like Dayton or a balanced offensive powerhouse like Wisconsin move on?
Let's break it down.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|When (All times ET)||Matchup||Watch||Streaming|
|Saturday at 6:09 p.m.||Dayton vs. Florida||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Saturday at 8:49 p.m.||Wisconsin vs. Arizona||TBS||March Madness Live|
Florida over Dayton
Arizona over Wisconsin
Dayton's run as this tournament's Cinderella is going to come to an end against Florida.
Thus far, Dayton has won with experience, an insane amount of depth, solid perimeter play and more than their fair share of grit. It's hard to see those things beating a Florida side that is efficient on both ends of the court, has now reached the Elite Eight in four straight seasons and boasts superior athletes.
Of course, to hear Coach Billy Donovan talk, you would think Florida was, well, Dayton. His comments, via Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News:
We’re not the most talented team in the country. We don’t have a lot of these lottery picks running around. I think on any given night, we can play with anyone. But we don’t have a Julius Randle, a Jabari Parker, a Doug McDermott, a Marcus Smart. We don’t have a star. Our team is based on being a team.
Of course, perhaps we should all doubt Dayton at our own peril. Then again, consider the following from ESPN:
Florida is red hot, folks. It's not a team I'd want to face, even if I had good mojo going like Dayton obviously does.
The more intriguing matchup is Arizona taking on Wisconsin, and, thankfully, at least one of the most talented coaches to never reach the Final Four will break that streak, as Andy Katz of ESPN notes.
The Wildcats have the nation's most efficient defense, according to Kenpom.com, while Wisconsin has the nation's fourth-most efficient offense. The clash of styles will be fun to watch.
Generally speaking, you pick defense over offense. But it helps that Arizona has bona fide stars in Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson who are capable of stepping up in a big way when called upon to do so. They certainly did so against San Diego State in a tight Sweet 16 game.
But Wisconsin is going to give the Wildcats all they can handle. The Badgers score both on the interior and the perimeter and have four players who average double-digit points. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker score and rebound in droves. They crush zones, but are so versatile and well-rounded that they can generally break down any defense thrown at them.
Arizona's defense will keep them close regardless, but if Johnson struggles like he did for most of the game against San Diego State, it's hard to imagine the Wildcats keeping up with the Badgers.
If he and Gordon are on their game, however, I expect them to get past Wisconsin.
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