Florida basketball coach Mike White didn’t like having to wait around until Tuesday night to learn the Gators’ opening NCAA Tournament opponent, and he probably also won’t like drawing a hot mid-major team led by two senior guards.
The No. 6-seeded Gators (20-12) will take on No. 11 St. Bonaventure (26-7) on Thursday night inside American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Bonnies advanced with a 65-58 win over UCLA in a “First Four” matchup Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
Game time for Florida vs. St. Bonaventure
The Gators and Bonnies are tentatively set to tip off at 9:57 p.m. ET Thursday in Dallas, though that game time could be pushed back if the previous game in the arena runs long.
TV information for Florida’s NCAA Tournament opener
The Gators’ clash with St. Bonaventure will be televised on truTV, with Spero Dedes as the play-by-play announcer, Steve Smith and Len Elmore as the analysts and Ros Gold-Onwude as the in-game reporter.
Watch Florida-St. Bonaventure online
The game can be streamed online via the March Madness App.
Florida is making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance under White, looking to build on its Elite 8 run last season.
The Gators had closed the regular season with one of their best three-game stretches, posting impressive wins over fellow NCAA tourney teams Auburn, Alabama and Kentucky. But a 90-82 loss in the SEC quarterfinals stunted any momentum the team had built.
Momentum has always been tenuous for this Florida team, which has battled its frontcourt deficiencies, wavering focus on the defensive end and cold shooting spells during a tumultuous campaign.
The Gators are led by their top four guards and need big games from a combination of senior point guard Chris Chiozza (11.2 points per game, 6.1 assists per game), Jalen Hudson (15.3 PPG), Egor Koulechov (13.6 PPG) and KeVaughn Allen (11.3 PPG).
“We’ve been average and we’ve been really good,” White said. “We’re going to have to be really good to [win Thursday night].”
Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure comes in with a little momentum after its win over UCLA. The Bonnies are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012 and earned their first tournament win since 1970 Tuesday night.
Forward Courtney Stockard led the way with 26 points, while the Bonnies survived rough shooting nights from senior guards Jaylen Adams (2 of 16) and Matt Mobley (4 of 12).
Adams (19.4 PPG) and Mobley (18.4 PPG) lead the team in scoring for the season.
Overall, St. Bonaventure, out of the Atlantic 10, has won 14 of its last 15 games.
Florida played the Bonnies last season, winning 73-66 in a neutral-site contest in Lakeland, Fla.
“Very similar team to a year ago in Bonnie, who’s got a terrific, really, really underrated backcourt — one of the best backcourts in the country,” White said. “They play incredibly hard. They’ve had a great year.”
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