The Dayton Flyers are feeling very confident and loose with the upsets they've already pulled this NCAA Tournament. They're also ready to wreck what's left of anyone's bracket with their greatest challenge ahead and a trip to the Final Four on the line. Enter the Florida Gators, the overall top seed. While the 11th-seeded Flyers already have exceeded expectations going into tonight's South Regional final, the Gators are driven, too. They talk of chasing greatness, trying to add to a 29-game winning streak that's the best in school history. Florida also is back in the Elite Eight having lost here the past three years. "We're just very blessed and fortunate to be a team that can put themselves in this opportunity to play for a Final Four again," Florida senior Patric Young said Friday. "Going to prepare and do the best we can, especially as a senior class, because it's our last go-round to make it to that next step." The Gators had their past three seasons ended at this point by Butler (in overtime), Louisville and Michigan. Young said the Gators have learned lessons from each of those regional final losses from not finishing a game when they had a lead or not coming out ready like a year ago, when Michigan routed them 79-59. "We're going to do the best we can and make sure we go out there leaving no regrets," Young said. Coach Billy Donovan, who won his 450th career game at Florida when the Gators downed UCLA 79-68 on Thursday night, said this team is so very different from each of the past three. Donovan noted he had to replace three starters in Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy from last year's team alone. But every loss to end a season hurts, and Donovan isn't ready to separate one from another. "I can tell you it was just as painful in 2000 walking off the court losing the national championship game as it was losing last year in the Elite Eight," Donovan said. "So I don't know if there's any easy way because I think everybody this time of year is putting their heart and soul (into it)." Florida (35-2) hasn't lost since Dec. 2 at UConn, and the Gators' win over UCLA matched the school record for most wins in a season set by the 2007 national championship squad. Their string of Elite Eights is even more impressive considering no other team has even made four straight Sweet 16s in the same span. Dayton coach Archie Miller was asked if he has quizzed brother Sean for tips on Florida's press, considering Arizona played the Gators last season. Miller said his brother's too busy and they're not talking anyway right now. But the Dayton coach has seen the Gators plenty on TV. "You understand kind of their pedigree right now," Miller said. "They're the No. 1 overall seed for a reason. They've won 29 games in a row. I don't know who can help me, to be honest with you."
Gators face Dayton for spot in Final Four
Florida Today | Mar 29