Florida receives No. 7 seed in NCAA Tournament, to play Virginia Tech

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida returns to the NCAA Tournament after receiving a bid Sunday.

Florida was selected as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 10 seed Virginia Tech (15-6) in the opening round at 12:15 p.m. Friday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will air on CBS.

The Gators (14-9) are headed to a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. They remained in Tennessee since they were eliminated from the SEC tourney and will travel to Indianapolis to begin testing and quarantine protocols.

How to watch:Florida Gators men's basketball vs. Virginia Tech

More:Scouting UF's NCAA first-round opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies

David Whitley:Florida receives better than projected No. 7 seed for NCAA tourney

Should UF win Friday, they would possibly face No. 2 seed Ohio State (21-9) in the second round of the South Region on Sunday. OSU opens with No. 15 seed Oral Roberts (16-10).

Virginia Tech, out of the ACC, was ranked No. 24 in Sunday's The Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll, powered by USA TODAY Sports. The Hokies, a three seed, lost in the quarterfinal round of the ACC tourney, 81-73, to North Carolina.

Coach Mike White: 'My guys are tired'

To make it to the NCAA Tournament is a credit to the Florida program, which endured the loss of SEC Preseason Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson in December to a medical condition as well as two separate COVID-19 layoffs, all of which trimmed the schedule by several games.

"My guys are tired," Florida coach Mike White said Friday after having lost twice to Tennessee in a span of six days. "It's been an emotionally draining season. No one has been through what these guys have been through."

More:Expect the unexpected as most unpredictable NCAA Tournament opens against backdrop of pandemic

More:Florida eliminated from SEC tourney by Tennessee, 78-66

Other SEC teams also making the tournament are league regular season and tourney champion Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and LSU. Alabama becomes the second school in SEC history to win the league football championship game and conference men’s basketball tournament in the same year, joining Florida (2006-07).

The Gators enter March Madness having lost three of their last four games.

"I would hope that with one more swing at it, we could put our best foot forward in the next event," White said Friday. "As we lose one more time, it's over.

"We've got to probably infuse some type of confidence, some type of discussion, an open discussion with all of us to where we can put this thing behind us somehow, figure out how we can grow up as much as possible in a short period of time. Maybe we can finish this thing strong."

Florida is one of 12 teams and the only SEC team to make every NCAA Tournament since 2017. Florida is also one of 11 teams to win at least one game in each of the past three NCAA Tournaments, nine of whom are also in the 2021 field with a chance to build on those streaks.

This will be the Gators' third tournament as a No. 7 seed, losing in the first round in 1989 and making the Elite Eight in 2012 from that slot.

South Region

The Gators' four NCAA Tournament appearances under White are the second-most by any coach in Florida history (Billy Donovan, 14) and exceeds the total number of official NCAA Tournament appearances in program history prior to Donovan's tenure. The Gators had two appearances under Lon Kruger (1994, '95) and one under Norm Sloan (1989; 1987 and '88 appearances were vacated by the NCAA).

Baylor is the top seed in the South and could face either North Carolina or Wisconsin in the second round. The Bears are a No. 1 seed for the first time.