Yeah, the Gators can win the national championship.
Few if any teams play better team defense. Few teams are better about fighting for loose balls. Few teams have more very good long-range shooters. In Billy Donovan the Gators have one of the best coaches when it comes to preparation and in-game decision-making, and few coaches have more successful March Madness experience.
But then . . . well, absolutely, the Gators can make an early exit. Few teams have a weaker inside scoring game. Junior center Patric Young simply hasn’t developed offensively. Full-court pressure often rattles these Gators who are average at best as ball-handlers. Few teams are as prone to have long scoring lapses. The Gators lack a go-to player – a closer as the experts like to say now – and that kills them late in close games. Remember, in games decided by 6 or fewer points the 26-7 Gators are 0-6.
Confused about these Gators? Me, too, and so is everyone else.
My prediction is the Gators win two games to reach the Sweet 16 and then lose to an underdog. But then again . . .
I guess you could say the Gators are the perfect team for March Madness. When we think of the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament, we tend to think about how unpredictable it is. Although a highly regarded team always wins the title, the journey to the championship game is filled with Cinderellas, late-game heroics and fans scrambling to find out where Northwestern State is located (Natchitoches, LA.) and what the hell a Billiken is other than the nickname of St. Louis University’s athletic teams.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the tournament is exactly how at-large teams are selected. I’m a believer that in a 68-team field no potential champion is snubbed. (There are 32 automatic qualifiers, conference champs.) That still doesn’t mean anyone can explain how Virginia is left out and LaSalle gets in or if anyone really believes California is a better team than Kentucky.
There are other little factors that can have an impact on the outcome of games. Is it a big deal that Miami became the first team in ACC history to win both the regular-season and tournament titles and not be a No. 1 seed? Actually it is. South Region No. 1 seed Kansas plays its first two games in Kansas City and East No. 1 Indiana plays in Dayton, Ohio, an easy car trip for Hoosier fans. Midwest No. 1 Louisville plays in Lexington, Ky. West No. 1 Gonzaga travels to Salt Lake City, but then there’s nothing near Spokane, Wash.
As the No. 2 seed in the East, Miami must travel to Austin, Texas. Ouch!
Thanks to all of the positives about the tournament and in spite of the few flaws, I love it. It’s my favorite month of the year.
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