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NCAA Basketball Florida GatorsMarch Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament: Florida’s Championship-Caliber Defense Vaults Them to Sweet 16

Florida Gators

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The Pittsburgh Panthers submitted one of the most dominant performances of the Round of 64 to help kick off the NCAA tournament. Shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and holding the Colorado Buffaloes to just 35.7 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-16 shooting from three, Pitt rolled to a 77-48 victory and earned a date with the No. 1 overall seed for the tourney, the Florida Gators.

In the Round of 32, it was Pitt that found themselves being dominated behind a masterful defensive performance from the Gators.

Scottie Wilbekin led the way for Florida offensively as he put up 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor and 3-of-7 shooting from deep, but it was Florida’s defense that was stunning. They limited the Panthers to just 45 points on the afternoon, holding them to just 37.4 percent shooting from the field, allowing just one double-digit scorer (Talib Zanna with 10 points), and allowing the Panthers to grab a mere 31 rebounds on the afternoon.

After the 61-45 victory, the Gators will await the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Stephen F. Austin and UCLA in the Sweet 16. After looking relatively unimpressive in their defeat of 16-seed Albany, the Gators definitely showed why they’re among college basketball’s elite on Saturday with how they performed defensively.

The Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin have the makings of a Cinderella team in this tournament and the Bruins are a team with a plethora of talented offensive weapons. Having said that, the Gators’ defense is good enough to carry them an extremely long way in this tournament and is the major reason why this team has been selected by many as the national championship winner in their brackets. Not many teams can stifle opponents the way that the Gators can, which makes it feel like their Sweet 16 matchup is more of a stepping stone rather than a road block to the Final Four.

Cody Williams is a Senior Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20, add him on Google and like his Facebook page.