Gators’ Road to Final Four Includes Stops in Its Own Backyard and Rematch City

After closely looking at the draw, my opinion is the same as it was originally – the Gators got lucky with the seeding.

But I also found some interesting potential matchups.

Or should I say rematchups?

Barring one of their famous 1 for 12 three point days, or fewer than 10 points from the foul line, Florida will be facing the winner of Michigan State and UCLA – two historically powerful programs who have fallen on hard times this year.

And those are two teams that Florida has had notable matchups with.

In 2000, Michigan State, led by Mateen Cleaves, defeated the Gators in the championship game. Nine years later, the Gators got a little revenge by shocking the nation with a victory in Atlantic City, NJ (which I went to).

Or, Florida could wind up facing UCLA in a tourney game AGAIN. First came the 2006 National Championship game, where Florida crushed the Bruins, 73-57. A year later, it was that same Gator team knocking off the same UCLA team in the Final Four- again.

If Florida wins the 2nd round game, they could meet BYU, and avenge the Jimmering they received a year ago in round 1.

And, if the Cats pull off a few upsets, and Florida takes care of business, it’ll be a rematch of Florida vs. the Wildcats of Kansas State.

Now, if you want to see something really crazy… if truckloads of upsets happen- and I mean at least 15 or 20- then the Final Four could be Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State.

Of course, those odds are about the same as Steve Addazio calling a downfield pass- approximately zero- but that would be too funny.

Now, let’s take a serious look at our road to the Final Four and potential opponents.

We basically have home court advantage- Tampa is two hours by car from Gainesville, and New Orleans is 8. Michigan State (and their fans) has to take a 3 hour flight to get there. Compared to the other teams in the region, that’s nothing. UCLA and UCSB have to take much longer flights- 5 hours to Atlanta, another hour to Tampa.

Basically, there will be far more Gator fans there than anybody else.

As for the regional semis and finals, New Orleans is an 8 hour drive for Gator fans. Pittsburgh? 18 hours. Brigham Young? 42 hours. St. Johns? 20 hours. Kansas State? 23 hours. Wisconsin? 22 hours.

Get the picture?

No matter who Florida plays, they have the home court advantage. It’s almost as if this region was designed for the Gators to be comfortable. Hey, wait a minute, that’s EXACTLY what it is.

And to be honest, there’ll probably be a good number in Houston for the Final Four… well, let’s get there first and then we’ll worry about it.

We have to beat some teams to get there you know….

California Santa Barbara shouldn’t be a problem, but then that was stated verbatim before games against Jacksonville and Central Florida. Orlando Johnson is a guy that can hurt us, so we can’t take them lightly.

Florida should really root for UCLA to beat the Spartans, because Michigan State is exactly the type of team that Florida hates- physical and plays good defense. That’s not to say they can’t pull it out- see Auburn and Morehead State- but I’d prefer not to have to live through that garbage again. I do think MSU will win that game because UCLA likes that kind of team even less than we do.

I know BYU lost Davies, but they’re still a great team. Aside from Mr. Fredette, they have a talented group, led by Jackson Emory and Noah Hartstock. I’m pretty sure they’ll be Florida’s Sweet 16 opponent. St. Johns peaked at the wrong time, and appear to be spiraling downward. The Seton Hall game was just embarrassing, and they’ve had some other hideous losses, too.

Pitt’s half of the Southeast region may be full of upsets, but none of them should prevent them from returning to the Elite 8. I wouldn’t be shocked if Belmont, Utah State and Old Dominion all win their games. I will be shocked if Pitt becomes a victim of any of them. Jamie Dixon’s teams don’t lose many games they shouldn’t, although they did lose one (St. Johns). Brad Wanamaker could be a big problem for Florida, and if the Gators play less than their best, they’re done here. Remember though, this is a home game for Florida. Even though New Orleans is 8 hours from home, it’s more than twice that for Pitt. Plus, I’m sure there are a lot more Gator fans in New Orleans than there are Panther fans.

After that?

The Final Four is anybody’s guess.

I’ll go with Florida, UConn, Ohio State and Kansas. Kansas beats Florida, Ohio State beats UConn and Ohio State chokes again- this time to the Jayhawks, who appear to be the nation’s most complete team, aside from maybe the Buckeyes.

4 thoughts on “Gators’ Road to Final Four Includes Stops in Its Own Backyard and Rematch City

  1. Yep, plenty of potential match-ups for the Gators in the tournament. We’ll get through each one of too.
    On another note the fact that you got lucky enough to wittiness the UF upset of Mich St. makes me a little jealous.:) That’s cool man!

  2. It was a two hour drive from my house… I didn’t know if they’d ever be playing that close to home again so I drove the two hours and damn was I glad that I did. Upset baby book it!

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