The Florida seniors have finally gotten over the hump, advancing to the Final Four after three straight losses in the Elite Eight round. The Gators will play in the national semifinals for the first time since 2007, which was the second of their back-to-back national titles.
With the victory, Florida also extended its win streak to 30 games, matching Auburn (1957-59) for the second-longest win streak by an SEC team. The only longer streak was when Kentucky won 32 games in a row in 1954-55.
So how did the Gators get to this point, as the hottest team in the country and just two wins away from its third national championship?
Keys to victory
Patric Young was a key part of Florida's dominance on offense and defense. The Gators outscored Dayton by 20 points in 31 minutes with Young on the court. Young scored 10 points in the paint, two fewer than the Flyers had as a team when he was on the floor.
Dayton Offense By How Possession Began
Florida's press defense disrupted Dayton’s offense all game. The Flyers were held to 18 percent shooting from the field on possessions that started with a full-court press, compared to 51 percent on all other possessions.
Florida outscored Dayton 13-1 on second-chance points, including 5-0 in the second half. The Flyers did not have an offensive rebound after halftime. Late in the second half, the Gators had back-to-back possessions that lasted over a minute, grabbing six offensive rebounds in those two possessions.
To win the title, the Gators will have to reverse a few trends. No team has entered the tournament averaging fewer than 72 points per game and gone on to win the national championship since the tourney expanded in 1985. The Gators' scoring average was 70.7 points per game two weeks ago.
Florida is the 12th team to go undefeated in conference play, win its conference tournament and then receive a No. 1 seed. None of the previous 11 went on to win the title, including Wichita State Shockers this year.
30-Game Win Streak Entering Final Four
Since Seeding Began in 1979
Florida is the fourth team since seeding began in 1979 to be riding a 30-game win streak entering the Final Four. None of the previous three teams went on to win the title.
However, the Gators do have some history on their side. The only other time they were a No. 1 seed was in 2007, which ended with the team hoisting the national championship trophy in Atlanta.
Florida won its Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games by double digits. Five of the past six teams to win each of those four games by double digits went on to win the national championship.
The Gators also entered the tournament as one of five teams ranked in the top 25 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency (17th) and adjusted defensive efficiency (5th). The past 11 national title winners have all been ranked in the top 25 in both categories.