Posted: March 23, 2007

Florida vs. Butler

NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal

When: Tonight, 7:10.

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

TV/Radio: CBS-3/WPEN (950-AM).

Records: Florida 31-5; Butler 29-6.

History: In the only meeting between the two, Florida won, 69-68, in overtime in the first round of the 2000 NCAA. LaVall Jordan, now a Bulldogs assistant, missed two free throws with 8.1 seconds left, setting up Mike Miller's buzzer-beater for the win.

How they got here: No. 1 Florida defeated No. 16 Jackson State, 112-69, and No. 9 Purdue, 74-67. No. 5 Butler defeated No. 12 Old Dominion, 57-46, and No. 4 Maryland, 62-59.

Coaches: Billy Donovan is 257-103 in 11 years at Florida, 292-123 in 13 seasons overall. Todd Lickliter is 131-60 in six seasons at Butler and overall.

Three things Florida must do:

1. Play its game. Far more athletic at every position, Florida has made its name on high-octane offense. Against a Butler team that only goes seven deep, that's a huge bonus.

2. Guard the three-point line. The Bulldogs love the arc. They took 293 three-pointers this season, ninth most in Division I and have no less than six guys who can shoot from outside.

3. Don't lollygag. The Gators have allowed teams to stay in games a little longer than necessary this season. They don't want to get down to a ball-control team like Butler.

Three things Butler must do:

1. Control the tempo. The Bulldogs aren't afraid to run the shot clock down. That's a must against Florida. The Bulldogs can't try to play bucket-for-

bucket against the Gators. They don't have the bodies to do it.

2. Look to its bread-and-butter, its defense. Butler has held 21 opponents under 60 points this season. That will be a tall order against a Gators team that shoots 50 percent from the floor, but if the Bulldogs can frustrate Florida enough, they'll be in it.

3. Take care of the basketball. The Bulldogs committed just 9.4 turnovers per game, tops in Division I. Never will that be more important. Florida turns mistakes into fastbreaks in a heartbeat.

What to expect: Florida has had one thing in mind since cutting down the nets last year in Indy. With the rest of the country falling in love with Kansas, don't be surprised if the Gators remind everyone who the defending national champions are. Butler will have to play almost flawlessly to score the upset.

- Dana Pennett O'Neil

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