After falling in the SEC Tournament to Vanderbilt for the third time in as many tries this season, many thought the Gators would fall in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee. If they did, that means they would have been seeded higher than was expected before the tournament.
Instead Florida got the four seed which most expected of the team before the SEC Tournament began and they got the close trip to Orlando as a nice reward for their schedule this season.
The Gators face off against a Buccaneers squad that won three games in the Southern Conference Tournament to win the automatic bid into the NCAA Bracket. They are winners of 13 of their last 15 contests on the season. They are 1-1 against the SEC this year having lost at Tennessee (72-68) and beating Mississippi State in Starkville (67-65).
Florida heads into the tournament having finished 14-4 in the SEC regular season and finishing second in the conference. They also have gone 3-3 since the loss of junior center John Egbunu to injury.
The Gators solid seed comes off the heels of an impressive non-conference schedule that has their current R.P.I as 10th in the country. They played all but one game before the conference schedule away from the O’Connell Center as the home venue was being refurbished. It made for a strong schedule that paid off in the end.
"Our guys have withstood a long, grueling season, with only playing a few games at home because of our unique circumstances, and they’ve handled it well,” head coach Mike White said. “They’re very deserving of this. We’re really excited to play in front of Gator fans in Orlando, but more importantly we have to get back to playing well.”
“I’m just glad to be back in the tournament,” senior guard Kasey Hill said. “It means a lot. Now, we have to be really locked in and play our best basketball. Everybody does, because we’re going to need everybody to win
Stay tuned to Fightin’ Gators as we bring you more on the Gators and their NCAA Tournament ride.