NCAA invite last opportunity for Gators

Florida guard Chris Chiozza passes under the basket around Arkansas' Arlando Cook (5) during the first half Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — As the NCAA basketball bracket was revealed Sunday, the TV broadcast flashed to different teams when they found out who they would be playing or that they were playing in the Big Dance.

If they had shown the Florida Gators, they would have seen a bunch of guys with their seat belts fastened and seat back and folding trays in their full upright position.

The players and staff were on a plane on the tarmac in St. Louis when it was revealed who they will play (kind of) after getting delayed again, this time by snow.

What they would soon discover was that their uneven season was reflected in a seed that was less than their best wins merited, but probably about what they deserved because of so many bad losses.

It could have been better because of all the Quadrant 1 and 2 wins.

It could have been worse because of the awful losses and probably dropped down a line because of the most recent one.

And isn’t it perfect that after all of this waiting and wondering, Florida still doesn’t know exactly who it will be playing? Talk about season of the weird.

Instead, either St. Bonaventure or UCLA, a couple of teams who just slid inside the bubble, will play in Dayton on Tuesday and then fly all night while the Gators are having a film session in a meeting room in a Dallas hotel.

So, advantage Florida.

Maybe the committee was rewarding the Gators for being seeded lower than a team they beat twice during the season.

But they also stuck it to Florida because the Gators probably don’t deserve having to possibly play Texas Tech in Dallas in the second round.

That’s the least of Mike White’s concerns.

The Florida coach told me Saturday he was hoping his team could be “healthy mentally.” And you just wonder about a team that will have to turn around after this strange trip that saw the Gators still be in the city where the SEC Championship Game was held and they had long been eliminated.

What’s the point of even unpacking?

But it could have been Boise.

They could be going to Idaho. I think Kentucky fans have to leave now to get there in time for the game.

The good thing? Seth Davis once again picked the Gators to lose their opening game. The UF coaching staff played the tape of him doing it last year before they went out and handled East Tennessee State in Orlando.

Last year it seemed like a major slight.

This year there were probably a lot of you watching the reveal that agreed with him.

But as Chris Chiozza said Friday night and every coach was saying today, it’s a new season.

So now that Florida’s destination has been set, we can spend the next 24 hours complaining about teams that got in and then they start playing and nobody talks about it again.

Although we may need more than 24 hours to fully criticize the new format of the Selection Show on Sunday.

It was so bad that the police department in Lawrence, Kansas, Tweeted out for people to stop calling 911 to complain about it. They probably were kidding, but it was criminal how CBS and TBS screwed up the first 15 minutes of what was a great thing.

The studio audience in Atlanta was a gimmick that didn’t work and any reveal that allows people to boo a team when it is announced as an at-large team is not right.

But once they fixed the audio problems and started showing us the brackets, it felt normal again.

And Florida in the tournament is normal.

For all of the criticism and praise that has been heaped on this team, what matters is not who they are playing or where they’re playing.

It’s that they are playing.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at



  1. Before Billy D, NCAA berths for Florida were almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. Kruger had a little success but apparently decided that the pasture was greener elsewhere. And Donovan did not have immediate success. It doesn’t take fans long to get spoiled, however, and so some regard a twenty-win season with a tourney bid as a disappointment. Given the weaknesses this team has in the 4 and 5 position, it’s remarkable that they achieved this much. It is indeed a new season, and March Madness is usually full of surprises. If the good Gator team shows up, they should get past the first round and even give TT a tough game. Go Gators!

    • Exactly! This is a team who, in November, took it to Gonzaga and almost beat Duke. It’s a team who, in non-conference play, soundly beat a now-2-seed Cincinnati. No reason why they can’t get hot a string a few Ws together. And MAN it’s just nice to be there!

  2. I am through commenting on this team. This team is so unpredictable that no matter what your comment is, either pro or con, it will be proven wrong the next game. So all I am going to say is, Gators we love you!!!, hope the right team shows up every game from now on, and give them heck in the tournament!!!!. GO GATORS!!!!!>

  3. Once again, i’ll point out that even Mike White said that this team can beat any team in the country and can lose to any team in the country. Hopefully they’ll stress some extra work on the zone offense sets. We’ll see if the first or second shows up in Dallas.