Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida, Miami prepare for NCAA Tournament

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 english@tampabay.com.

Florida, Miami prepare for NCAA Tournament 03/17/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 1:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston as HBO star: 'I can't compete with Jon Snow'

    Blogs

    This morning marks the official start of training camp for the Bucs, with veterans reporting today, two days after rookies, preparing for Friday morning's first practice.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston made a live appearance from One Buc Place on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Thursday as veteran players report for training camp.
  2. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  3. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]