Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM
It’s no surprise that top-seeded Florida and Arizona will be on the floor Saturday in their respective regionals trying to cinch berths in the Final Four. Will either suffer surprises that derail their dates with destiny? Florida tries to end the party for the last true Cinderella of the 2014 NCAA Tournament when they take on Dayton in Memphis. After that, Arizona will try to outplay and outsmart a Wisconsin team in Anaheim that is clearly a live dog based on recent form and skill sets.
With just two games on the Saturday slate, we’ll run them BOTH through our gauntlet of computer data. We’ll do the same thing for your tomorrow for Elite Eight action in New York and Indianapolis. The numbers you see below come from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin.
Computer Rankings-Game One
Dayton #38 in Pomeroy, #36 in Sagarin
Florida: #1 in Pomeroy, #3 in Sagarin
Dayton and Stanford were the only teams outside of the top 20 in the computers to reach the Sweet 16. Since they played each other, that guaranteed we’d have at least one pseudo-Cinderella in the Elite Eight. Of course, it’s not like Dayton is a dramatic longshot given a top 40 ranking. And, they’re playing better than that ranking now given wins over Ohio State, Syracuse, and Stanford thus far in the tournament. Florida has been a clear national championship contender all season in the computers, and is playing to those expectations so far.
Computer Rankings-Game Two
Wisconsin: #6 in Pomeroy, #4 in Sagarin
Arizona: #2 in Pomeroy, #2 in Sagarin
Sagarin would have this as a Final Four game! Wisconsin has gotten more respect than other Big 10 contenders through most of the season…even if they didn’t win the regular season title or the conference tournament. Potential for a blockbuster here.
Offensive and Defensive Rank Game One
Dayton: #35 on offense, #72 on defense
Florida: #16 on offense, #2 on defense
Moving now to offensive and defensive breakdowns…this looks to be a real problem for Cinderella! Defense wins championships, and Florida has a tremendous advantage over Dayton on that side of the floor. Now…Dayton’s hustle and spirit has allowed them to overachieve defensively thus far in the Dance. But, this is the best offense they will have faced by a good bit. Florida has talent, poise, maturity, and the ability to hit three-pointers if you slow them down inside. The numbers you see above explain why Florida is a double-digit favorite.
Offensive and Defensive Rank Game Two
Wisconsin: #4 on offense, #46 on defense
Arizona: #19 on offense, #1 on defense
Fascinating battle of the versatile and dangerous Wisconsin offense facing what grades out as the best defense in college basketball. UCLA proved in their recent upset of Arizona that the best way to beat them is to get them into foul trouble. Will that encourage Wisconsin to attack more inside rather than relying on the trey? You have to assume Wisconsin’s going to have issues inside defensively given that ranking. They HAVE to get personnel off the floor for Arizona to match their scoring (unless they’re hot from long range).
Game One: Dayton #226, Florida #314
Game Two: Wisconsin #274, Arizona #271
All four teams are below average in pace…preferring to work the ball for good shots and take open threes when they find them. That’s likely to set up two methodical games where everyone’s in their comfort zone.
Against the Spread
Game One: Dayton 20-12, Florida 18-14-1
Game Two: Wisconsin 20-16, Arizona 21-15
You’ve probably noticed through our Dance previews that teams who had poor ATS records during the regular season aren’t advancing! Being overrated catches up to teams in the most high pressure situations. All of these teams are at least four games over .500 now after enjoying tournament success. Arizona was at 21-14 just before the non-cover against SDSU. Money teams!
Florida by 10, total of 132.5
Arizona by 3, total of 130
Oddsmakers are giving a lot of credit to Florida as a championship caliber team. If you can beat UCLA and Pittsburgh by double digits, you can beat Dayton by double digits. Arizona is a short favorite. But, the computers were hinting that this might be closer to a true pick-em.
Who should YOU bet in Saturday’s Elite Eight action? If you’re having trouble making a final decision, JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK would love to have you join us for a SUPER SATURDAY PARLAY! You can purchase it any time during the day Saturday before tipoff right here at the website with your credit card. If you prefer taking care of business with a live human, call our handicapping office at 1-888-777-4155. (Remember to ask about Major League Baseball when you call…the season is now just hours away!)
See you again tomorrow at this time to run the numbers for Sunday’s blockbuster doubleheader. Be sure you GET THE MONEY all through MARCH MADNESS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!