Florida is a football state. You already knew that. But for the month of March, basketball is center stage, err, court.
The state of Florida is having a very good year. There is a chance that the NCAA field could be littered with schools from the the Sunshine state. How many? Lets take a peak:
What we know:
FLORIDA GULF COAST narrowly missed a chance to be a true Cinderella losing to Belmont in the Atlantic Sun Finals. They will not be dancing.
FLORIDA will be in the NCAA tournament. The Gators are trending the wrong way entering the SEC tournament this week, having dropped 3 straight games and falling into a 3-way tie for second place in the SEC. Florida scores a higher percentage of their points beyond the 3-point arc than all but 2 teams in America. Freshman Bradley Beal, who could be NBA bound as a one-n-done, spearheads a 3-guard lineup with Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. The Gators could climb as high as a #3 seed by beating Kentucky and winning the SEC tournament. Without that, they are looking like a #5 seed at the moment.
FLORIDA STATE will be in the NCAA tournament. The Noles finished 3rd in the ACC and beat both North Carolina and Duke along the way. They are a defensive-minded club that does a good job cleaning the glass. The inside-outside combo of Bernard James and Michael Snaer leads them. The Seminoles could potentially rise to a #3 seed by just winning another game against Duke or Carolina in the ACC tournament. Beating them both probably won’t net them a #2 seed. At this moment, they are in the #4-#5 seeding area.
What we don’t know:
The three other major state schools are all bubbly and don’t know if they’ll be dancing or not until later this week.
UCF will need multiple wins in the Conference USA tournament, and may need to win it to get in. C-USA will get Memphis in, and Southern Miss is iffy right now. The Knights lost twice to the Eagles, so yeah, there is that. The head-2-head win over UConn could come in handy, but if Harvard doesn’t win the Ivy’s bid, then the loss to them could be equally as haunting when measuring teams. The NIT seems most likely without a Conference USA automatic bid. A #13 or #14 seed is possible if they do get in.
USF surprised many by going 12-6 in the Big East this season, finishing in a 4th place tie. They rank a measly 325th in the nation in scoring, but they play great defense. What hurts them as much as anything is they lack any significant wins. Wins against Louisville and Seton Hall are as good as it gets. All the other NCAA-bound teams or bubble teams hammered them or beat them. Anything short of 3 wins in the Big East tournament gives them no chance to dance. Should they make it, a #12 or #13 seed is most likely.
MIAMI went 9-7 in the ACC and was 18-11 overall this year. Problem is who they lost to. They don’t have any significant out of conference wins and lost twice in the conference to fellow bubble team NC State, and lost to bubble teams Purdue and Ole Miss. The Canes beat Duke and FSU this year, but will probably have to duplicate that feat in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the ACC tournament if they are to get into the NCAA tournament. Winning against Georgia Tech and then FSU would make it real close. If they get in, they could play in one of the “1st round” games on Tuesday or Wednesday.