Good news from the NCAA arrived Monday in the form of a #1 national seed for the Florida Gators, who will host a regional with Georgia Tech, UConn and Bethune Cookman starting Friday. Florida’s first game of the double-elimination regional is set for 6 p.m. against Bethune-Cookman the champion of the MEAC and the #4 seed in this regional. Georgia Tech and UConn will square off at 1 p.m. in the 2-3 seed game.
Seven SEC teams will host an NCAA regional and four (#1 Florida, #4 Texas A&M, #6 Mississippi State and #8 LSU) are national seeds which means they will host Super Regionals if they win this first round. This is the second time (first was 2012) that the Gators have been the overall #1 seed since Kevin O’Sullivan became the head coach and it’s the ninth straight year (school record) that UF will participate in a regional.
Should the Gators win the regional, they get the winner of the Tallahassee Regional, which would probably mean facing Florida State for the second straight year in a Super Regional.
Gainesville bracket breakdown:
#1 Florida (47-13): The Gators are the #1 overall seed with the #1 RPI in the country. Against the NCAA field, the Gators are 17-9. The Gators have the #10 ERA (3.08) and are ranked #1 nationally in fielding percentage (.983, 39 errors in 60 games). The Gators have a team batting average of .279, led by Peter Alonso (.352, 9 HR, 47 RBI), Daldon Guthrie (.309, 1 HR, 20 RBI) and JJ Schwarz (.299, 6 HR, 51 RBI). Florida’s weekend pitching rotation is Logan Shore (10-0, 2.41 ERA), A.J. Puk (2-3, 2.88 ERA) and Alex Faedo (12-1, 3.49 ERA). Closer is Shaun Anderson (3-0, 1.09 ERA, 12 saves).
#2 Georgia Tech (36-23): Georgia Tech has the #20 RPI and a 14-17 record against teams that made the NCAA field. The Yellow Jackets were a combined 1-7 against Miami and Florida State. Offensively, Georgia Tech is led by third baseman Matt Gonzalez (.370, 10 HR, 48 RBI), the NCAA active career leader in hits with 294, and sophomore outfielder Kel Johnson (.323, 11 HR, 52 RBI). The Huskies hit .307 as a team and have a team ERA of 4.65, led by staff ace Brandon Gold (8-3, 2.38 ERA). Tech feels confident if the game is in the hands of closer Matthew Gorst who has 12 saves and an 0.41 ERA.
#3 UConn (37-23): The Huskies won the American Athletic Conference Tournament, otherwise they would be staying home this weekend. UConn is 4-11 vs. teams in the tournament. The Huskies have a team batting average of .277 led by Willy Yahn (.319, 3 HR, 43 RBI), Bobby Melley (.312, 10 HR, 53 RBI) and Joe DeRoche Duffin (.266, 17 HR, 54 RBI). The pitching staff has a 3.47 ERA, led by ace lefty Anthony Kay (9-2, 2.46 ERA). Patrick Ruotolo (2-1, 1.73 ERA, 11 saves) is the closer. UConn has a #52 RPI and its best win is over #36 RPI East Carolina, which beat the Huskies the other five times they played.
#4 Bethune-Cookman (29-25): Fresh off a Mid-East Athletic Conference championship, the Wildcats make a return trip to Gainesville, where they lost 7-1 to the Gators back on May 3. BCC has a #163 RPI and an 0-2 record against teams in the NCAA Tournament. As a team, the Wildcats are hitting .285, led by Nathan Bond (.358, 3 HR, 28 RBI), Michael Cruz (.332, 16 HR, 40 RBI) and Danny Rodriguez (.310, 10 HR, 46 RBI). Tyler Norris (6-3, 4.13 ERA) is the ace for a staff with a 4.93 ERA.
Other SEC hosts:
#4 Texas A&M (45-14, #4 RPI): #2 Minnesota, #3 Wake Forest, #4 Binghampton
#6 Mississippi State (41-16-1, #11 RPI): #2 Cal State-Fullerton, #3 Louisiana Tech, #4 Southeast Missouri State
#8 LSU (42-18, #7 RPI): #2 Rice, #3 Southeastern Louisiana, #4 Utah Valley
Ole Miss (43-17, #5 RPI): #2 Tulane, #3 Boston College, #4 Utah
South Carolina (42-15, #8 RPI): #2 UNC-Wilmington, #3 Duke, #4 Rhode Island
Vanderbilt (43-17, #9 RPI): #2 UC-Santa Barbara, #3 Washington, #4 Xavier
Other regional hosts of note:
#3 Miami (45-11, #3 RPI): #2 Florida Atlantic, #3 Long Beach State, #4 Stetson
Florida State (37-20, #13 RPI): #2 Southern Miss, #3 South Alabama, #4 Alabama State
Conference breakdown (number of teams per conference): ACC 10; SEC 7; Coference USA 4; Pac-12 4; American Athletic 3; Big Ten 3; Big 12 3; Big West 3; Colonial 2; Southland 2; Sun Belt 2; West Coast 2; American East 1; Atlantic 10 1; Atlantic Sun 1; Big South 1; Horizon 1; Ivy 1; Metro Atlantic 1; Mid-American 1; MEAC 1; Missouri Valley 1; Mountain West 1; Northeast 1; Ohio Valley 1; Patriot 1; Southern 1; Southwestern 1; Summit 1; WAC 1
AUSTIN-KEEGAN WIN NCAA DOUBLES TITLE
Florida’s dynamic duo of sophomore Brooke Austin and junior Kourtney Keegan scored a straight sets (6-2, 6-0) win over California’s #4-ranked Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr Monday to win the NCAA Doubles Championship. Austin and Keegan were 33-7 this season and 18-6 against ITA-ranked opponents. The doubles championship is the first for a Gator duo since Whitney Laiho and Jessica Lenhoff won in 2001.
MEN’S GOLF FINISHES #15
The Gators shot a 17-over 297 Monday and finished the NCAA Championships in 15th place. The top eight teams advance to match play to decide the NCAA champ. LSU, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina will be the SEC representatives in the final phase of the tournament.
SEC SPRING MEETINGS BEGIN TODAY
Normally the biggest news coming out of the SEC Spring Meetings at the Sandestin Hilton is something Steve Spurrier said when he holds court with reporters and the announcement of how much money the league is splitting up with its members. Since Spurrier isn’t around anymore and the league won’t announce money totals until October, SEC commish Greg Sankey is going to have to deal with a number of issues that shed bad light on the league.
At the top of the list is NCAA woes. Ole Miss has stolen all the recent headlines but we can’t forget that Alabama D-line coach Bo Davis resigned when he lied about visiting numerous out-of-state recruits during a dead period and there is that teensy matter of a Title IX lawsuit against Tennessee that makes serious accusations against HBC Butch Jones.
Ole Miss just self-imposed sanctions as a sacrifice that it hopes will appease the NCAA gods, who might choose to drop a heavier hammer on the miscreants from Oxford. The NCAA released a Notice of Allegations of 28 violations including 13 against the football program, 8 of which were Level I category. Nine of the 13 violations were on the watch of head coach Hugh Freeze.
As for Tennessee, the Title IX lawsuit includes a statement by a former player who claims Jones told him he “betrayed the team” by helping a woman who claims she was raped by two Vol football players. Jones, as you can imagine, has denied everything. In light of what just happened at Baylor, Jones and the Vols
There is also a matter of Mississippi State’s 5-star DE recruit Jeffery Simmons, who has been charged with simple assault against a woman. There is a video that shows Simmons hitting a woman on the ground. That’s not good for either Simmons, Mississippi State or the SEC. So far, mum’s the word in Starkville.
The SEC, which last year instituted a rule prohibiting transfers who had been subject to university or athletic department suspensions for domestic violence, sexual assault or any other form of sexual violence, plans to expand its rule to include dating violence and stalking and could include violence or threats against men as well as women. The same proposal will require all SEC schools to do a thorough background check prior to offering a transfer a scholarship.
Greg Sankey won’t confirm is there will be talk about realigning the SEC football divisions. Back in April Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said there would be a discussion about Auburn switching to the SEC East. For Auburn to move East it would mean Missouri would have to move West. Whether it’s in the East or the West, Mizzou is a long haul for just about everybody in the league.
On the basketball agenda, there will be plenty of discussion about upgrading schedules, etc., after only three SEC teams made the NCAA Tournament. Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was hired by the SEC as a consultant to help the league gain a higher basketball profile. For all practical purposes, Kentucky and Florida have carried the league the last 20 years.
WARRIORS FINISH OFF THUNDER
I haven’t decided which is more impressive – how quickly Stephen Curry can load and shoot a basketball or the degree of difficulty of some of their 3-point shots. I would imagine Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder are asking themselves those same questions this morning after Curry and Thompson led the Golden State Warriors to a 96-88 win over the Thunder in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals Monday night. Curry scored 36 points while hitting 7-12 of his 3-pointers and Thompson was good for 21 points with 6-11 from the 3-point line. The Warriors (17-37 on 3-pointers) outscored the Thunder (7-27), 51-21, from the 3-point line and that was the difference in the game.
With Curry and Thompson getting off their shots no matter how closely they were defended and hitting a few shots with a near maximum degree of difficulty, the Warriors completed their comeback from a 3-1 deficit for a rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the league championship.
The result of game 7 was almost a foregone conclusion since it was played in Oakland. When Donovan looks back he will point to what happened in game 6 in Oklahoma City as the stiletto to the heart. The Thunder led the Warriors by 7 points with less than five minutes to go but instead of doing the things that got them the lead, they morphed back into an every man for himself offense that went stale. The Warriors turned the last four minutes into a clinic and ran away with a game that Okie City should have won.
It will be an interesting offseason for Oklahoma City. It’s 50-50 whether Kevin Durant will be back next year and both Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka both have only one year remaining on their contracts. Donovan could go from a team ready to challenge for the NBA title to a team that will have to scramble to be a top contender.
Augie Garrido stepped down as baseball coach at Texas. In 20 years at UT he won NCAA championships in 2002 and 2005 and got the Longhorns to the College World Series eight times. The 77-year-old Garrido leaves as the winningest coach of all time in college baseball with 1,975 victories.
Apparently Baylor will hire former Ohio U and Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe as its interim to replace fired Art Briles. Grobe was 77-82 in 13 years at Wake Forest including an 11-3 record and ACC championship in 2006.
Malik Newman made it official Monday by asking Mississippi State and Ben Howland for his release. Newman averaged 11.3 points per game as a freshman after he was the highest rated recruit to ever sign with the Bulldogs.
Marcus Lee is expected to announce he’s transferring to California. Unless he can graduate from Kentucky between now and September he will have to sit out a year before he can play.
How’s this for a refreshing change? Alec Peters, who averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last year, will remain at Valparaiso for his senior year rather than transfer to a power program such as Vanderbilt, where former Valpo coach Bryce Drew will be coaching next season. Among the reasons Peters elected to stay are “these guys (Valpo teammates) are my best friends in the world.”
Just a day after there were reports that Johnny Manziel was missing, he was spotted in an exclusive New York City night club where he was partying with friends. This guy is going to go down as one of the greatest wastes of talent in football history.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you think the NCAA will accept the self-imposed sanctions by Ole Miss and do you think much will become of the NCAA violations committed by former Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I expected great things from The Marshall Tucker Band when they broke through with the single “Can’t You See” in 1973 off their self-titled debut album. That album hit #29 on the charts and only one of their subsequent albums bettered that (“Searchin’ for a Rainbow” hit #15 in 1975). I always thought the reason they never lived up to their potential is that they never seemed to figure out whether they wanted to be a Southern rock and roll band or a country music band. Today’s music is a live performance from 1981. They were always better in concert than they were on vinyl.