Gators Grab a No. 2 Seed

The Gators seemed destined for a No. 3 seed regardless of their performance in the SEC Tournament, but the NCAA Committee felt otherwise. Florida was awarded with a No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region and will begin play on Thursday in Tampa when it takes on UC Santa Barbara.

"We are really excited about being in the NCAA Tournament," head coach Billy Donovan said. "I'm very happy for our players and out staff for the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We look forward to playing in Tampa, and we will have a lot to get prepared for in a short amount of time."

It is the second straight NCAA berth after the Gators missed the tournament in two straight seasons after winning back-to-back national championships. Florida was eliminated in the first round last season by BYU.

If the Gators can defeat the Gauchos on Thursday in the St. Pete Times Forum, they will take on Michigan State or UCLA with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line. The last time Florida was a No. 2 seed, they were eliminated by Michigan State in Tampa during the second round in 2003. The winner of the foursome playing in Tampa will advance to the Sweet 16 and a regional site in New Orleans.

UC Santa Barbara won the 2011 Big West Tournament by shocking No. 1 seed Long Beach in the conference championship game. The Gauchos (18-13) were the No. 5 seed in their conference tournament.

UC Santa Barbara is led by 6-5 junior guard Orlando Johnson, who is averaging 21.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. Thursday's game time has not been announced yet.

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