Florida’s back-to-back national championship legacy hasn’t been forgotten.
The 06-07 Gators were named one of the top 25 teams in NCAA Tournament by the NCAA, and Joakim Noah was named as one of the top 75 players in NCAA Tournament history.
The NCAA announced its list on Tuesday in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the NCAA Tournament. CBS basketball analysts will complete a bracket of the top 25 teams in early March and unveil its best team in NCAA Tournament history.
Noah was a defensive force inside during Florida’s back-to-back national title seasons. He had 41 blocked shots in 13 NCAA Tournament games, including 29 blocks during Florida’s first NCAA title run in 2006.
The 2006-07 Gators finished 35-5 overall to win their second straight national championship. Florida won both the SEC regular season crown (13-3) and SEC Tournament. Four players from the roster are still playing in the NBA, led by Noah, Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks), Corey Brewer (Denver Nuggets) and Marreese Speights (Memphis Grizzlies).
Several of those players stuck around following the 2006 season for a chance to repeat as national champions and cement their legacy in college basketball.
On my Gator Hoops podcast, I recently asked ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale where the back-to-back national champion Gators rank in terms of the teams he’s witnessed in 32 years of broadcasting.
“They rank very high to me in terms of their loyalty factor,” Vitale said. “In today’s day and age, everyone runs for the quick buck, have visions of grandeur and the dollar. Those kids have to be commended, Noah and Horford and Brewer could have taken a lot of cash. But it’s a tribute to the school, tribute to the coaches and it certainly was an outstanding team defensively.
“I don’t know about ranking top five and all that but bottom line is they’ve done something very few schools have done. They have hung up banners back-to-back years, and that is special.”
— Florida is projected as a No. 1 seed in the South in ESPN’s latest bracketology. According to the projections, the Gators would play NCAA second and third round games in Lexington, Ky., before moving on to Arlington, Texas for the Sweet 16.