Versatility's vital

You're probably wondering why Tennessee's basketball team is finished for the year, while Florida – a team UT swept during the regular season – is still in the hunt for the NCAA title.

In a word … versatility. The Gators have enough size in 6-11 Joakim Noah, 6-8 Al Horford and 6-8 Corey Brewer to hang with anyone on the inside. They have enough outside shooting in Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green to beat people from the perimeter. They have enough weapons to score in the halfcourt, as well as in transition. And Billy Donovan's crew has enough depth to outlast opponents.

The key figure in the whole equation is Brewer, who can do a little bit of everything. He has the speed to run the floor and score in transition. He has the agility to score off the dribble. He has the range to score from the perimeter. He has the height and leaping ability to score off offensive rebounds. And, because of his long arms and quickness, he's one of the NCAA's better defenders.

Teams who do one thing very well can be stopped at NCAA Tournament time. Conversely, teams with the versatility to win more than one way tend to go further, a fact UT coach Bruce Pearl alluded to recently.

"Last year in the Final Four your four most talented teams got there – Michigan State, Louisville, Illinois and North Carolina – because the cream rises to the top," Pearl said. "In spite of the scout, you've got a player that's capable of doing something else. Brewer's a good example of that."

So how important is having a player or two with multiple skills?

"It's huge," Pearl said. "Now when your players are limited – they have specific strengths and specific weaknesses – they can be exposed more at this time of the year."

Tennessee's "specific weaknesses" were exposed last weekend in the Round of 32. That, more than anything else, is why the Vols are watching and the Gators are still playing.

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