Florida on Top of the College Hoops World

Mar 25, 2013 -- 11:39am


Eat your heart, Kentuckians. Ditto for you North Carolinians. Same for you New York City basketball junkies.

The basketball world is now centered in the state of Florida, known for its passionate love affair with football. I don’t expect anything to replace football as king – except maybe sunshine – but basketball is thriving like never before.

We all know the Miami Heat sits on the throne in the NBA and is currently grabbing more headlines than usual because it’s chasing history with 26 straight victories.

Now Florida is top dog in college basketball as well with three teams in the Sweet 16. No state is as well represented.

It isn’t a surprise that the Gators are back among the elite. Coach Billy Donovan has built one of the best programs in the country.

But who imagined the Miami Hurricanes winning the ACC and getting this far? Hell, three months ago the Canes were losing to an unknown upstart program located in Fort Myers. Yeah, Florida Gulf Coast.

That may be the only reason most of you had ever heard of Florida Gulf Coast before the Eagles became the darlings of the NCAA tournament.  For what it's worth, First Coast fans had two chances to see FGCU play in Jacksonville this season.  I understand why you didn't flock to those games against JU and UNF.  The Eagles did little to indicate they'd play so will in March, putting togetehr a 21-10 regular season record.

So I don't want any of you to even suggest you saw the slightest possibility of Florida Gulf Coast becoming the first 15 seed to ever advance this far in the NCAA Tournament.

I realize this run by teams from Florida can change in the flash of a slam dunk. Either the Gators or FGCU will be eliminated Friday when they play in Dallas. Yes, FGCU could beat the Gators. Not likely, but not unthinkable. The Eagles are athletic, have really good guard play and we know the Gators can go cold on the offensive end.

Miami will be favored against Marquette when they play Thursday in Washington, D.C., but who’d be surprised if there’s an upset?

And Kentuckians and North Carolinians could get the last laugh. Louisville is still the tournament favorite and Duke is . . . well, it’s Duke. (Duke is located in Durham, N.C., for those who are weak in geography.)

To say the tournament is still a crapshoot is an understatement. College basketball’s overseers couldn’t be happier. There has been more upsets than usual with teams seeded 9th, 12th, 13th and 15th still alive. But 9 of the top 12 seeds and 11 of the top 16 seeds are still playing and that means a Final Four loaded with traditional powers is likely.

But wouldn’t a FGCU vs. La Salle championship game be fun?

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