When Florida takes the court late Thursday night in its NCAA Tournament opener, it will have had less than 48 hours to prepare since St. Bonaventure officially became its opening opponent.
The No. 6-seeded Gators (20-12) will take on the No. 11 Bonnies (26-7) inside American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Bonnies advanced with a 65-58 win against UCLA in a First Four matchup Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
Despite, the short turnaround, the Gators feel they have a good sense of what to expect from St. Bonaventure, which has won 14 of its last 15 games while setting a program record with its 26 wins this season.
“We went pretty deep. We had film twice before we came and then had practice. A standard practice with scouting report. It was thorough,” Florida assistant coach Dusty May said. “It was ready to go; we had a basically full scout, presented it twice already, so guys had a good feel.”
St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, was in even more of a time crunch, jetting from Dayton, Ohio, after its late win Tuesday night and arriving in Dallas for media day and shootaround Wednesday.
“We had a great flight at 2 a.m. Best flight I’ve ever had at 2 a.m.,” Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt joked. “But it’s been great and really looking forward to the challenge of competing against Florida.”
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 coach Mike 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 to Arkansas in the SEC quarterfinals stunted any momentum the team had built.
Momentum has always been tenuous for this Florida team, which has battled its front-court deficiencies, wavering focus on the defensive end and cold shooting spells during a tumultuous campaign.
But the players were loose in the locker room Wednesday and spoke confidently about their postseason outlook.
“We believe in ourselves. We know we can go far in this tournament,” freshman guard Mike Okauru said. “We’re just trusting each other. We’re just going to go out there and play our hardest and whatever happens, happens.”
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).
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 on 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.
“We’ve got pretty good guards, they’ve got pretty good guards and I feel like it would be a great game to watch,” Florida forward Keith Stone said.
Florida played the Bonnies last season, winning 73-66 in a neutral-site contest in Lakeland, Fla.
“St. Bonaventure, I thought, played extremely hard, defended at a really, really high clip and beat a good Pac-12 team without their best two players, in my opinion, playing at their fullest potential. That shows you how dangerous they are,” White said.
The post Florida basketball vs. St. Bonaventure in NCAA Tournament: Time, TV channel, preview (March 15, 2018) appeared first on SEC Country.