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Gators just want to be No. 1 on April 8

Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin hopes to be doing this in the Final Four.


Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin hopes to be doing this in the Final Four.

For the first time since 2007, the Florida Gators are the No. 1 team in the nation.

The Florida men's basketball team rose one spot on Monday to take over No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls — only the fourth season the Gators have had a No. 1 ranking. Florida's players spent the day trying to balance enjoying the moment with keeping it all in perspective.

"We just want to be the No. 1 team in the country at the end of the season, so right now it's all good, but we have to continue to get better," sophomore guard Michael Frazier said.

The last time the Gators were No. 1 in the regular season they went on to win a national championship, but national experts joined Billy Donovan in downplaying the significance.

"It's really more of a badge of honor than anything else," said ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla. "It's a point of pride, but it really doesn't mean a lot. I think in Florida's case it's a credit to how consistently good they've been all season long. … But other than a point of pride and it may be a little bit of help in recruiting, it's not that big of a deal and I'm sure he's not making that big a deal about it. To me, Billy knows the big picture. And the big picture is how are we playing going into the tournament?"

Donovan said he didn't want to appear unfazed by the Gators' new ranking, because he considers it "an honor" for his team. But he can't put energy into worrying about, or focusing on, anything but the Gators' next opponent.

"A lot of times when you get that ranking, a lot of times it has nothing to do with what you do," Donovan said. "It has to do with what other people do. When you start to be affected by what happens to other people, you get focused on the wrong things."

Florida earned 47 first-place votes in the AP poll, to 14 for undefeated Wichita State (29-0). Donovan said he could make a case for the Shockers, but ESPN studio analyst Seth Greenberg said the Gators have earned the top ranking.

"There's no doubt about it (Gators can make a deep run)," Greenberg said. "Because it (NCAA Tournament) is a game of matchups, and because they are so versatile offensively and defensively, they should be able to settle in and play against anyone."

It really is great to be a Florida Gator

The Florida men's basketball team may be getting all the attention this week for being ranked No. 1, but Billy Donovan's squad isn't the only one to hold that distinction in Gainesville — and far from the only success story for the Gators this spring. The undefeated Gators softball team is also ranked No. 1 in the both the Softball and NFCA/USA Today national polls. Among the Gators' 14 sports currently in season, seven are ranked in the Top 5: men's basketball (No. 1); gymnastics (No. 3); lacrosse (No. 5), men's swimming and diving (No. 4); women's swimming and diving (No. 5); women's tennis (No. 5) and men's track and field (No. 2).


Florida at Vanderbilt

On TV, radio: 7, ESPN, 620-AM

Gators just want to be No. 1 on April 8 02/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 9:55pm]
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