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South Bracket Setting Up Nicely For Florida

FloridaComing into the NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators were a prime candidate to be an upset victim. They came in with a miserable 0-6 record in close games. They also came in after a second half meltdown against the Ole Miss Rebels with a championship on the line. But as so often happens, especially with this team, another game and things change drastically.

First, the Ole Miss loss doesn’t look quite as bad now that the Rebels advanced after beating a tough Big Ten team in the Wisconsin Badgers earlier in the day. The Rebels used the same formula they did in the SEC Tournament, getting behind in the first half with a cold-shooting Marshall Henderson, then watching Henderson heat up in the second half and bring his team back.

Then as the other games in the South Bracket unfolded, the Gators run to the Final Four became more do-able. The #1 seed in the South, the Kansas Jayhawks, did not look so great against the #16 seed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers as they won by seven points.

Then, the #2 seed Georgetown Hoyas lost to the #15 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Those are the only two teams in the bracket seeded higher than the Gators. The #4 and #5 seeds will play each other in what might be the game of the day when the VCU Rams meet the Michigan Wolverines. One of them will be gone after today.

The #6 seed UCLA Bruins are gone as well losing to the #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday night. So the #3 Gators, who rolled over #14 Northwestern State 79-47, has an 11 seed and many people think they will get a #15 in the Sweet Sixteen. FGCU will meet #7 San Diego State in the next round, and many like them to win.

So the VCU-Michigan winner will take on the winner between #1 Kansas and #8 North Carolina Tar Heels. Whichever of those four teams Florida would face in the Elite Eight would be very tough, but not unbeatable.

Florida’s toughest opponent to get to the Final Four will be themselves. What will happen if the Gophers keep the game within reach? Will Florida melt down in the closing minutes? Surely the meltdowns Florida suffered against the Arizona Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats and Ole Miss will be in the back of their minds.

The Minnesota game will go a long way to telling the story in this bracket. They will not get blown out. If Florida can finally win a close game and get over that hurdle, they may find themselves in Atlanta two weekends from now.

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