BURLISON: Florida was dominant in tourney

It's tough to "compare" national champions, other than when it comes to checking their margins of victories. And the Florida Gators come out looking pretty spiffy when you do that.

INDIANAPOLIS – Do you want a pretty nice example of a pointless exercise, when it comes to college basketball?


OK. It's in trying to rate teams from different seasons and, especially, different eras, against one another.


But I suggest that an acceptable way of "comparing" NCAA championship teams is in looking at their scores in tournament play.


In that way you can get a relative comparison of teams in their dominance of their competition during their tournaments.


So how does the club that cruised to the 2006 title Monday night in the RCA Dome stack up?


*The Florida Gators beat Final Four opponents George Mason (73-58) and UCLA (73-57) by a combined 31-point margin. That's the largest margin since UNLV knocked off Georgia Tech (90-81) and Duke (103-73) by 39 in Denver 16 years ago.


*And Coach Billy Donovan's team's 96-point cumulative margin of victory over the tournaments' six games is the most since Duke's 100 in 2001.


The Gators had just one close game in the tournament, a 57-53 decision over Georgetown during a Sweet 16 contest in Minneapolis on March 24. Their next tightest winning margin was 13 points (75-62 over Villanova).


By the way . . . how unexpected was Florida's 33-6 and national championship season?


The Gators were the first team to win a title after not cracking the Associated Press preseason ratings since Syracuse did the trick three years ago. Before 2003, the last squad do it was the Villanova team that upset Georgetown in the 1985 final.


Hey . . . I don't know of a hoops prognosticator who claims to be perfect.


And teams are always going to "fall through the cracks", right?


This season was as good an illustration of that as any in recent memory: Among the Final Four teams, only UCLA was a consensus preseason Top 25 choice.



It would be rather pointless to try to comfortably put together a preseason Top 25 until we've got a clue as to which underclassmen will say farewell to a life of dormitories and monthly scholarship checks.


The five underclassmen who have yet to definitely reveal their intentions in regards to the June NBA Draft and who could have the most impact on the race for the 2007 NCAA title are Rudy Gay (Connecticut), Josh McRoberts (Duke), Adam Morrison (Gonzaga), Joakim Noah (Florida) and Tyrus Thomas (LSU).


The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft pool is April 29, with June 18 (10 days before the draft) the cutoff date to withdraw.


It's long been anticipated that forwards Gay and Morrison were playing their final seasons in Huskies' and Bulldogs' uniforms.


Of late, many NBA insiders are going on the assumption that the 6-foot-11 Noah, 6-10 McRoberts and 6-8 Thomas will bypass the remainder of their college eligibility as well.


If each of the aforementioned players is shaking hands with David Stern on June 28, here are three options for the No. 1 spot in the preseason polls:


*North Carolina. With a strong freshmen class, led by All-America Tyler Hansbrough, becoming a sophomore class and being joined by McDonald's All-Americas Brandan Wright, Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington, the Tar Heels will probably get the most No. 1 mention.


*Ohio State. The Buckeyes return double-figure scorers (Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis) from their regular-season Big Ten Conference championship squad. But the reason they will be ranked this high is the presence of center Greg Oden, who could be the national Player of the Year as a freshman. Unless you've watched him play, you almost certainly have no idea of how dominant he's capable of being immediately.


*UCLA. Barring defections, the Bruins will lose only Cedric Bozeman and Ryan Hollins from the team that won 32 games before falling to Florida Monday night. Swingman Josh Shipp (sidelined for all but four games because of a hip injury that required surgery in late September) and freshman forward James Keefe will keep Ben Howland's rotation as strong and deep as it was during this past season.


Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram

Tiger Blitz Top Stories