Resetting the South region: Florida, UCLA, Dayton and Stanford

Tuesday March 25th, 2014

Scottie Wilbekin Can any team in the South region stop Scottie Wilbekin and the Gators from getting to the Final Four? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

You may not have watched every game of the NCAA tournament, but don't worry: We did. We'll tell you how each team got to the Sweet 16 and why they will or won't make the Final Four.

Dates: Thursday, Saturday

Location: FedExForum, Memphis, Tenn.

Sweet 16: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA, 9:45 p.m., CBS; No. 10 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 11 Dayton Flyers, 7:45 p.m., CBS

Elite 8: TBD

Other regional resets: East (Virginia vs. Michigan State; Iowa State vs. Connecticut) Midwest (Michigan vs. Tennessee; Louisville vs. Kentucky) | West (Arizona vs. San Diego State; Wisconsin vs. Baylor) 

Florida Gators

How they got here: 

The Gators dozed through a win over Albany, 67-55, in the second round. They dispatched Pitt 61-45 in the third round.

Why they'll make the Final Four:

The Gators now have seemingly the easiest road to the Final Four of any of the remaining No. 1 seeds. They'll face UCLA in the Sweet 16, a team the Gators have beaten four straight times in the NCAA tournament, including the national championship game in 2006. Bruins head coach Steve Alford has never been past the Sweet 16, and that is no match for the tournament resume of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who has won two titles and been to three Final Fours and six Elite 8s.

If the Gators get past UCLA -- KenPom gives them a 71 percent chance of winning -- they'll face the winner of Dayton vs. Stanford. Dayton's best advantage is its experience — and Florida has almost identical experience. Stanford's biggest edge is its interior size, and Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Co. will give the Cardinal big men their biggest battle of the season.

Why they won't make the Final Four:

The Gators haven't looked exactly dominant in their past three games, dating back to a nail-biting win against Kentucky in the SEC championship game. Michael Frazier is 3-for-13 from the three-point line so far in the tournament, and Florida will need him to break a zone or seal a run at some point if it is going to win a national title. UCLA could be a difficult out for the Gators because of their length and athleticism — the Bruins have far more sure-fire NBA talent than the Gators do. If they lose one of their next two games, it'll likely come against UCLA — not Dayton or Stanford.

- By David Gardner

Kyle Anderson, UCLA BruinsKyle Anderson is looking to drive UCLA to its first Final Four since 2008. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

UCLA Bruins

How they got here:

The Bruins had an easy road to the Sweet 16, cruising past No. 13 Tulsa, 76-59, in the second round, and No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 77-60, in the third round.

Why they'll make the Final Four:

Clearly, the Bruins' tallest hurdle to clear to get to the Final Four is Florida in the Sweet 16. The Gators feature the country’s No. 2 defense in terms of adjusted efficiency, according to They get turnovers on 21.8 percent of possessions, and allow just a 44.9-percent effective field goal percentage. UCLA, however, counteracts Florida's greatest strength. The Bruins have the 11th-lowest turnover percentage, and while they rely on the three, they shoot it well, knocking down 38.6 percent of their attempts. Few teams are built to attack the Gators, but UCLA is one of them. If it wins that game it will be a huge favorite against either Dayton or Stanford.

Why they won't make the Final Four:

With Patric Young and Will Yeguete, the Gators should be able to dominate UCLA inside. Despite ranking 12th in offensive efficiency, the Bruins rebound just 30.1 percent of their misses, which ranks 223rd in the country. Florida gives up few second chances even to strong offensive rebounding teams. The Bruins will likely have to shoot the lights out to get past the Gators, and that’s something teams have not been able to do against the tourney’s top overall seed.

- By Michael Beller

Devin OliverDevin Oliver celebrates as the buzzer sounds in Buffalo and the Flyers have taken down Syracuse. He finished the game with 7 points and 10 boards. (Elsa/Getty)

Dayton Flyers

How they got here: 

The Flyers have already pulled off two upsets in the tournament. They beat No. 6 Ohio State, 60-59, in the second round, then upended No. 3 Syracuse, 55-53.

Why they'll make the Final Four:

The Flyers are not dependent on one guy to do the bulk of their scoring. Instead, they spread it around among Dyshawn Pierre, Jordan Sibert, Vee Sanford and Devin Oliver. That can be an asset, as opponents can’t just take away one player and shut down the Dayton attack. The Flyers are the lowest seed remaining (along with fellow No. 11 seed Tennessee) and are definitely a long shot, if not the longest shot, to make it to the Final Four, but they were supposed to be done playing after one game. There’s something to be said for resiliency in March, and Dayton has shown that all season long, especially while winning 12 of its past 14 games.

Why they won't make the Final Four:

Quite simply, the Flyers are on borrowed time. While they were underdogs to both Ohio State and Syracuse, neither of those teams were truly among the best in the country by the start of the tournament. Dayton does not have the size to match up with Stanford, or the offense to get past Florida or hang with UCLA. It turns the ball over far too often to upset the No. 1 overall seed in the dance, and it doesn't score efficiently enough to put any real fear into the Bruins. Not only will the Flyers not make the Final Four, this nice story will likely end on Thursday against Stanford.

- By Michael Beller

Stanford Cardinal Josh Heustis (left) and Dwight Powell made key plays down the stretch in the Cardinal's shocking win over the Jayhawks. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Stanford Cardinal

How they got here: 

The Cardinal ground out a 58-53 win over No. 7 New Mexico in the second round, then pulled off a monumental upset of No. 2 Kansas, edging the Jayhawks 60-57.

Why they'll make the Final Four:

Rarely does a No. 10 seed find itself favored in a Sweet 16 game, but that’s exactly the position the Cardinal are in against No. 11 Dayton. Stanford's size, headlined by 6-foot-10 Dwight Powell and 6-foot-11 Stefan Nastic, will be too much for the Flyers to handle. Four of the Cardinal’s top-six rotation guys are at least 6-foot-7. The Flyers have just one player who plays at least 20 minutes per game of that size. That size will also allow them to handle Patric Young and Will Yeguete, if Florida beats UCLA. If the Bruins win, it will be the same monstrous advantage it was against Dayton.

Why they won't make the Final Four:

You never know what would happen if circumstances were changed, but chances are the Cardinal wouldn’t even be here if Kansas center Joel Embiid had been healthy enough to play last weekend. The Cardinal did manage to beat UCLA once this year, but that was at home, where they lost only twice all season. They lost to the Bruins by 17 at Pauley Pavilion and by 25 on a neutral floor in the Pac-12 tournament. Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine a team that ranks 63rd in adjusted offensive efficiency beating Florida for a trip to the Final Four.

-- By Michael Beller

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