OMAHA, Neb. (WTVR) – It’s about a contrast of styles. When UVA takes on Florida in Omaha Friday, the team that can dictate the tempo of the game will likely come away the winner.
Virginia employs coach Tony Bennett’s “pack-line” defense, a slow-the-tempo, suffocating approach to the game that can take the edge off any team.
Florida tries to speed the game up, scoring on transition plays with a healthy complement of 3-point tries.
Florida head coach Billy Donovan says neither team should see any surprises when the ball is tipped.
“We’ve gone against very good defensive teams, and I think they’ve probably gone against teams style of play-wise like Duke or North Carolina that really want to go up and down the floor. So although the styles may be somewhat contrasting, I don’t think it’s going to be taken by surprise that at some point over the course of this lengthy season we haven’t seen some similarities in each others’ systems.”
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, now in his third year in Charlottesville agrees.
“It’s about the opponent, it’s about the matchup. Florida is very talented, we know we’ll have to be at our best. When you draw a team like Florida, when you see that name come up that automatically gets your respect because of their abilities. And I think our guys know they’re going to have to be at their best to have a chance at this one.””
Despite the differences, there are similarities between the Cavaliers and the Gators. Both struggled to end the season losing six of their final ten games. Each had an inexplicable loss to lesser teams, and close losses to to-flight competition: Virginia a 60-48 loss to Clemson and narrow losses to UNC and Duke. Florida was downed by Georgia 76-62 loss, and was beaten by #1 Kentucky three times, and Vanderbilt once.
The odds in Las Vegas favor Florida. The betting line is sitting at 3.5 points.
Omaha is likely very familiar with both teams’ fans through hosting the College World Series, the NCAA’s tournament for baseball. Over the past three years each school has appeared there twice.
Tipoff is set for 2:10pm. The winner will get a likely date against #2 seed Missouri, which plays Norfolk State.