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Tournament Coverage
Sweet 16 games

Thursday, 3/23
Duke - LSU
Memphis - Bradley
Texas - W. Virginia
UCLA - Gonzaga

Friday, 3/24
Boston College - Villanova
George Mason - Wichita St.
Florida - Georgetown
Connecticut - Washington

Elite 8 games

Saturday, 3/25

Sunday, 3/26
George Mason-Connecticut

Final 4 games

Saturday, 4/1
Florida-George Mason

by Rick Gagliano | 4/1/06

Preview: (3) Florida (31-6) vs. (11) George Mason (27-7)
National Semi-final; Indianapolis, IN; April 1, 2006, 6:07 p.m. ET
Favorite: Florida -5 1/2

Ostensibly, the Florida Gators had the easiest route to this game, George Mason, the toughest. The Gators got past teams seeded 14, 11, 7 and 1, while the Patriots had to survive against teams seeded 6, 3, 7 and 1. Notably, Florida won by the largest average margin of all four teams - 16.25 points - with George Mason checking in with a paltry 4.25-point winning edge in their games.

What stands out in this game is not the dominance of Florida, but George Mason's predictably efficient offense. They're shooting an excellent 48% in the tourney, a shade better than Florida's 47%, but they seemed to have saved the best for last, hitting 30 of 60 shots against Connecticut, canning 9 of 18 3-pointers in the process.

Florida recorded it's worst shooting performance of the tournament against Villanova, checking in at 41%, hitting 22 of 54 shots and only 4 of 17 (24%) from 3-point range. The Gators, did, however, completely shut down a tired Wildcat team, holding them to under 25% shooting overall.

The Gators have also been quite proficient at the foul line, bagging 82% of their freebies, and they've terrorized the glass, averaging 7 more rebounds per contest during their tourney run. The Patriots are hitting a very pedestrian 63% from the line and averaging only a 1.5 per game rebounding edge.

More than anything else, both of these semi-final games come down to pace and attitude. Florida likes an up-tempo game and plays with fiery emotion, while George Mason employs pressure and patience to drub their opponents.

Florida, with Joakim Noah leading the charge, seems to have an edge in the emotional aspect. If Noah and Al Horford are able to clear the boards and start the fast break, this one could be over early. The Patriots just don't have the players or bench depth to keep up with the speedy Gators.

Look for Florida coach Billy Donovan to get his players off the mark early and establish a lead. The Gators play well with leads, as they have led their games - except the Georgetown game - nearly start to finish. They also have shot and made more 3s than any other team in the tourney (27-75), though George Mason hits a better percentage (42%).

This game is going to be won on the fringes, not in the paint. Florida's bigs may be neutralized by the play of Jai Lewis and Will Thomas, who have a weight advantage to offset Horford and Noah's height edge.

What it comes down to is how well the Patriot guards - Tony Skinn, Lamar Butler, and to some degree Folarin Campbell - can handle the likes of Lee Humphrey, Taurean Green, Cory Brewer and Walter Hodge off the bench. These guys will run all day, and Brewer, along with Noah, are excellent slasher/finishers.

The dream has to end somewhere, so it might as well be right here, as the Gators run away and hide by 8 or more points.

Half time update: Florida 31 George Mason 26

Florida has completely eliminated the patriots' 3-point shooting (0-4) while hitting 6 of 15 themselves. Inside game has been neutralized: Noah 4, Horford 3, Lewis 4. George Mason's defense keeping them in the game, but they'll need to find scoring in the 2nd half. No foul trouble for either side.

Recap: Florida 73 George Mason 58

Lee Humphrey hit 4 2nd half 3-pointers and 6 overall, and Florida's guards led the Gators to a decisive win over George Mason. Cory Brewer and Taurean Green added three treys apiece. Florida outshot the Patriots 12-2 from outside the arc and turned that into a runaway.

The Gators also continued their hot free throw shooting hitting 15 of 19 from the line (79%). They move on to Monday's championship game against the winner of LSU-UCLA.