UF's NCAA tournament opener is set

Florida could face Georgetown in the Sweet 16

Florida forward Erik Murphy passes the ball against Georgetown Hoyas defender Mikael Hopkins during the first half aboard the USS Bataan at Mayport Harbor on Nov. 9. The game was stopped at halftime because of conditions on the USS Bataan.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 7:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 7:10 p.m.

Florida's bracket looks pretty solid. Of course, we never know how things are going to work out.

The No. 13 Gators (26-7) open with Northwestern State University of Louisiana (23-8) from Natchitoches, a team that averages 81 points a game and lost to three SEC teams in the non-conference schedule — Texas A&M, Arkansas and LSU. They were competitive with all three.

The Demons are a high-scoring team but only shoot 32 percent from 3-point range.

If Florida advances, it will face either UCLA, a familiar foe, or Minnesota, with a familiar coach in Tubby Smith.

UCLA lost its leading scorer Jordan Adams to a broken foot in the Pac-12 Tournament and its depth is shaky. The Gators beat UCLA in the Round of 32 in 2011 in Tampa and in the 2006 national title game and again in the 2007 Final Four.

Minnesota has been an up-and-down team all season. They have lost six of their last nine, including the first round of the Big 10 tournament against Illinois on a last-second shot.

The top seed in the South is Kansas but there's no point even looking that far down the line. There are interesting potential match-ups. Florida opened the season with a half-game against Georgetown and could face the Hoyas in the Sweet 16. Also in that part of the bracket — Florida Gulf Coast and Lon Kruger's Oklahoma team.

In the top half of the bracket, not only do you have Kansas but an under-seeded North Carolina team and former UF assistant Shaka Smart's Virginia Commonwealth team.

Plenty of storylines potentially.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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