Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

Florida, Miami prepare for NCAA Tournament

RECOMMENDED READING


Shortly before the NCAA Tournament bids were announced Sunday night, the Florida Gators were talking more about the importance of trying to shake off the pain of a three-point loss to Ole Miss in the SEC tournament championship than the tourney itself. • They'll have to put the title loss behind them quickly. • The Gators (26-7) earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play No. 14 seed Northwestern State on Friday in the NCAA South Region in Austin, Texas. • "We're excited to be in the NCAA Tournament, and we look forward to a great challenge against Northwestern State on Friday," UF coach Billy Donovan said. • The overall seeding reflected a college basketball season that has been defined by parity, upsets and a revolving door at No. 1. Louisville, which is on a 10-game winning streak and won the Big East tournament championship on Saturday, earned the No. 1 overall seed. The Cardinals will begin play at Rupp Arena. The Big East has the most teams in the tournament with eight.

Indiana, Kansas and Gonzaga were also rewarded with top seeds.

"The one-line was extremely hard," said Mike Bobinski, NCAA men's tournament committee chairman. "There were so many quality teams fighting for those top four spots. It was really hard."

Florida is one of three teams in the state that received invitations to the tournament, joining Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Miami, which won both the ACC regular season and ACC tournament championships for the first time in school history, is a No. 2 seed and will open play Friday in Austin against No. 15 seed Pacific (22-12). The Hoyas and Hurricanes were in line for a No. 1 seed.

"Both are terrific teams," Bobinski said. "It was a very difficult decision."

FGCU will open play Friday against No. 2 seed Georgetown in Philadelphia.

This is Miami's seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and is tied for the highest in program history (1999). It's the third time that Miami is higher than a No. 6 seed. Though Miami is the first ACC team not to receive a top seed after winning both the regular season and the conference tournament, it was rewarded with what many consider a favorable draw in the bracket. Coach Jim Larranaga said the Hurricanes will take things one game at a time.

"We just went through a grueling three-game tournament, and now we're going to begin another tournament," Larranaga said. "One of the things you have to do is sharpen your sword."

The Hurricanes will attempt to win a title with a roster that includes five seniors.

"Experience is a very positive thing for us right now," Larranaga said.

For the Gators, the challenge now becomes both Northwestern State and their own emotions. The three-point loss to Ole Miss was crushing for the Gators, who enter the tournament 2-2 in their past four games.

"We have to (put it behind)," junior center Patric Young said. "It's now one-and-done and if you lose the season's over. So we can't let this linger on and affect us going into the first game of the NCAA Tournament. We have to get prepared for the next opponent."

Northwestern State, the Southland Conference champions, leads the nation in scoring (82.4 points per game) and will attempt to match the Gators with an up-tempo style of play. The Demons have lost to three SEC teams this season — LSU, TAMU and Arkansas — none of which advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Only Florida, Missouri and Ole Miss are in the tournament from the SEC. Kentucky, the defending national champion, did not make the NCAA Tournament field. But while the Gators are intent on moving on, they also don't plan on forgetting, particularly the fact that Sunday's loss was the fourth this season in games decided by five points or fewer. And they believe the adversity will make them a stronger team when NCAA Tournament play begins on Friday.

"We need to remember the situation," senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "We need to remember all of these situations. As a team we've been in every situation possible to prepare us for the tournament. Now we've just got to go out and do it."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

Memphis has locked down the West Division.All that's left is to settle the East with Friday's "War on I-4" between UCF and USF.USF has won six of the eight meetings in the rivalry, but the stakes never have been greater. The winner advances to play M...
Updated: 1 hour ago
More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

GAINESVILLE — Unless Chip Kelly has made up his mind by the time you read this, the Gators are still looking for a new football coach.There's a chance the rival Seminoles aren't far behind. Industry insiders are speculating that Texas A&M could...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Fennelly: USF-UCF rivalry needs more than directional disrespect

Fennelly: USF-UCF rivalry needs more than directional disrespect

TAMPA — It’s the biggest football game in USF history. It’s two days and 90 miles away. USF at UCF. The 9-1 Bulls against the 10-0 Knights. It’s USF coach Charlie Strong against UCF/Florida/Nebraska coach Scott Frost. It̵...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

Call Missouri jinxed, but Michael Porter Jr. injury is its own story

Please repeat after me: There is no such thing as jinxes, hexes, ghosts or cartoonish black clouds looming with personalized curses for select targets.Honest.But, boy, are there coincidences — even if some say there is no such thing as those, either....
Updated: 7 hours ago

Giants are NFL’s most disappointing team this season, but Broncos are close

The New York Giants made the playoffs for the first time in four years last season under the guidance of coach Ben McAdoo, setting high expectations for the 2017 campaign. They pushed those expectations even higher with the addition in free agency of...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Cambridge Christian’s Caleb Young makes up for lost season

Cambridge Christian’s Caleb Young makes up for lost season

TAMPA — For Cambridge Christian, last Friday’s Class 2A region final against Indian Rocks Christian represented a hurdle that the Lancers couldn’t quite clear a year ago. For one Lancer in particular, it was the Golden Eagles themselves that brought ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

TAMPA — Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.In the second half of Sunday’s game, the Dolphins converted six third downs when they needed 8 ya...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Browns welcome Gordon to practice

Browns welcome Gordon to practice

CLEVELAND — Every day he stays committed and sober, Josh Gordon takes another step toward playing again in the NFL. The long walk and wait are nearly over. The wide receiver, who squandered millions in potential earnings and derailed a promising care...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

Bucs-Falcons: Has this former Buc become a pass-rushing force?

TAMPA — The Bucs face the defending NFC champions twice in their final six games. As they prepare to go to Atlanta on Sunday, former Tampa Bay first-round pick Adrian Clayborn is enjoying quite a two-week run.Clayborn, 29, had six sacks Nov. 12 in a ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Chip Kelly is not the best candidate for Florida job

For the sake of a beleaguered and bedraggled fan base, here’s hoping Chip Kelly becomes the next head coach of the Florida Gators even though I think he’s not a great fit — culturally, geographically and philosophically — at UF.Gator Nation needs som...
Updated: 8 hours ago