But the NCAA giveth and the NCAA taketh away. The Gators get saddled with an extremely competitive regional headed up by second-seeded North Carolina, a team many thought was a borderline #1 seed entering the weekend. Carolina boasts sophomore pitching phenom Andrew Miller who hails from Buchholz High School in Gainesville. Notre Dame, a team that has been hot the last month checks in as the third seed and at number four is Stetson which won the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
SEC Gets Loads of Respect
The Southeastern Conference got nine teams into the tournament, but more importantly all nine are seeded one or two in their respective Regional. Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee are all number one seeds at home, while Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Auburn and Mississippi State are all seeded second. Auburn and Arkansas being two-seeds is, frankly, a joke. If those teams are among the 32 best in America, it's not a very good country. Vanderbilt is probably the best team not chosen for the 64-team field, and while the Commodores are indisputably one of the 40 best, they simply did not get enough done. But then again, neither did Auburn.
NCAA Did Andy Lopez No Favors
Former Gator Coach Andy Lopez led Arizona to the College World Series last year, but the chances of doing it again look pretty remote. Arizona, which has ranked in the 8-to-12 range most of the season, withdrew as a potential host site deciding not to risk losing money rather than back its program. So, not only does Arizona not host, it's not even one of the 16 number-one seeds in the event. That's a pretty clear indication the NCAA was upset with the Wildcats. But it's not the only one.
First, the NCAA gives a host spot to Arizona State, which shouldn't even be a two-seed in my view. And to add insult to Arizona's injury sent Coastal Carolina there as the top seed. If you look up absurd in the dictionary, it's bound to have the Tempe bracket listed. But the NCAA was not done giving Arizona the administrative middle finger. The committee sent 'Zona to Fullerton to be the two-seed at the home of the defending national champs.
Oh, and one last thing. Arizona will play Missouri in the first day of the tournament. The Tigers are not a great team, but they have one of the nation's best pitchers in Max Scherzer. When he's on the mound, Missouri is a top ten team. Good luck Lopes!
Weakest Regional Might be in Tallahassee
While Florida State did not get one of the top eight seeds nationally, the Seminoles have nothing to gripe about where the NCAA selection committee is concerned. FSU will be at home with perhaps the weakest two-seed in the tournament in Auburn. I'm not saying Auburn is a bad team … it isn't. But the idea of them being a two-seed defies logic, and shows this year's committee was obsessed with the R.P.I. and not particularly interested in common sense. Add in South Alabama and Army, and you gotta think the chances are great for FSU to advance.
Now if only the Gators can do the same… next weekend in Gainesville will be something incredible.
Men's Tennis Finishes Excellent Season
Florida's elimination in the semi-finals of the NCAA Championships brought to an end one of the best seasons in Gator history. The Gators earned the school's second trip to the NCAA semi-finals on the heels of a SEC Tournament Title and co-champs of the regular season. Andy Jackson's team did it despite playing the entire season without its second best player in Janne Holmia. If Holmia had been healthy, perhaps this team would have had a chance to win it all. Maybe not. But still, the Gators did a phenomenal job this year and Jackson has earned my vote as the Gators' men's coach of the year. Unless of Course Pat McMahon makes it to Omaha.
Kerron Clement Is Amazing
The best athlete you know almost nothing about at the University of Florida is track star Kerron Clement. The Sophomore from La Porte, Texas won 15 events including the NCAA 400-meter hurdles last year and has added to his haul in his second season in Gainesville.
Clement set a world indoor record in winning the NCAA 400-meters back in March. He also was part of the Gators' Championship 4X400-relay team. Clement contributed to three wins at the SEC Outdoor Championships by taking the 400-meter hurdles and running on two relays. He matched those wins this past weekend at the NCAA East Regional up in New York.
I would argue the greatest track athlete in UF history is Dennis Mitchell with Mark Everett second. If the next two years are like the last two, Kerron Clement will move to the top of the list.
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