Florida Gators vs. Virginia Preview: NCAA Tournament Round of 32

What to know: (4) Florida Gators vs. (5) Virginia Cavaliers

Game Information

When: Saturday, March 18, 2017, at 8:40 p.m. (ET)

Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Fla.

Records: Florida (25-8, 14-4 SEC); Virginia (23-10, 11-7 ACC)

Coaches: Mike White- 46-23 (2nd season at Florida), 147-63 (6th season overall); Tony Bennett- 188-82 (8th season at Virginia), 257-115 (11th season overall)

TV: TNT

Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network

Projected Starters

FloridaPos.Ht.Wt.ClassPer Game
Devin RobinsonF6-8200Junior11.3 pts / 6.2 reb
Justin Leon      F6-8206Senior6.9 pts / 3.7 reb
kevarrius hayesC6-9218Sophomore6.0 pts / 4.3 reb
Kasey hillG6-1175Senior9.9 pts / 4.6 asts
Kevaughn allenG6-2183Sophomore13.7 pts / 2.6 reb

 

virginiaPos.Ht.Wt.ClassPer Game
jack saltC6-11247R-Sophomore3.6 pts / 3.9 reb
devon hallG6-5207R-Junior8.6 pts / 4.5 reb
kyle guyG6-3165Freshman7.8 pts / 1.7 reb
london perrantesG6-2197Senior12.9 pts / 3.8 asts
darius thompsonG6-4196R-Junior6.3 pts / 2.1 asts

 

Preview

After a disappointing four-game losing streak in February, Virginia has now won five of its last six games. The Cavaliers won one game as the No. 6 seed in the ACC Tournament before falling to Notre Dame in quarterfinals.

With a difficult ACC and out of conference schedule this season, Virginia posted a 4-5 record against ranked opponents. The Cavaliers posted two wins over Louisville and split meetings with both North Carolina and Notre Dame this season.
Virginia also played a close game with out of conference opponent and No. 1 overall seed Villanova earlier in the season, falling by just two in a 61-59 loss.

In its first-round game against No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington, Virginia got off to a slow start, going down 26-11 with 7:25 to go in the first half. The Cavaliers stormed all the way back with a 19-3 run to take a 30-29 lead into halftime.

It was a close game to the end from there. Virginia went up by as many as 10 points late in the second half, but UNCW just would not go away. The Seahawks slowly inched back to cut the lead to 73-71 with 54 seconds on the clock.

A Virginia score and a UNCW turnover on the following possession shattered all hopes of an upset in the end as the Cavaliers went on to win 76-71.

Virginia’s victory was led by 24 points from leading scorer London Perrantes. Much like Florida, the Cavaliers have a strong presence off the bench. Guard Marial Shayok, Virginia’s second-leading scorer this season, provided 23 points off the bench in the game.

UNCW was just the third opponent to score more than 70 points in regulation against Virginia’s outstanding defense this season. The Cavaliers bring in the nation’s best scoring defense, allowing just 56.1 points per game.

Virginia limits possessions for its opponents, only allowing 48.2 field goal attempts per game, which is the fewest in the nation.

For Florida to get to this point, it had to overcome a rough patch of three losses in four games to get a first-round win over East Tennessee State. It was the first NCAA Tournament win for the Gators since 2014 and Florida’s fifth straight win in the Round of 64.

Devin Robinson led the Gators with 24 points to tie his career-high and tacked on seven rebounds. Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza both had 14 to join Robinson in double figures.

Kevarrius Hayes played one of his best games, scoring seven points and grabbing seven boards while setting a new Florida NCAA Tournament record in steals, with six. His two blocks added on to his season total of 54, which is the fifth-most in a single season in program history.

Florida and Virginia have met just twice before and split the two meetings. The most recent meeting was in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Gators defeated the Cavaliers 71-45 and went on to make an Elite Eight appearance.

The Gators are 9-3 all-time in the second round of the tournament and have posted six straight wins in those appearances. If Florida can get its seventh consecutive victory in the Round of 32, it will play the winner of No. 1 seed Villanova and No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

 

 

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Bailiegh Williams
Growing up the daughter of a baseball coach in a household that revolved around Gators sports, Bailiegh’s future working in sports was her destiny. She played four years of varsity softball at Suwannee High School and one year on softball scholarship at Gulf Coast State College. In her first year she discovered a love for journalism so she packed her bags and moved to Gainesville to finish her A.A. and begin interning for Gator Country. She is now on track to graduate from the University of Florida in 2019. In her free time, Bailiegh enjoys binge watching her favorite TV shows and spending time with her family and her two fur babies.