5 Reasons Why Florida Will Win The South Region
Five Reasons Why Florida Will Win The South Region
After being one of the nation’s dominant teams for much of the season, the Florida Gators did not finish the season as strong as they would have liked. Over the past month, the Gators have lost four of nine games and failed to win the SEC Tournament, despite breezing through much of their conference schedule without much trouble.
As a result of their late-season struggles, Florida dropped to a 3 seed in the South Region, where they may have the 2 seed Georgetown or the 1 seed Kansas standing in their way if they expect to make it to the Final Four. It’s not the ideal situation for the Gators, although they are arguably the best 3 seed in the tournament and if they play up to their potential they should have no problem reaching the Sweet 16, at minimum.
Many people have soured on Florida as of late because of the sluggish way they finished the season, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Gator’s four losses over the final month of the season came against teams that are either in the NCAA Tournament or were on the bubble right up until the brackets were announced. Even with the late-season losses and Florida’s questionable play in close games after blowing out teams for much of the season, there is still a lot to like about the Gators and their chances in the NCAA Tournament. Here are five reasons why Florida will win the South Region and move on to the Final Four in Atlanta:
Nearly every player in the Florida rotation is either a junior or a senior, and most of them have played a key role during the Gator’s trips to the Elite Eight the past two seasons. Teams as old as Florida are rare in college basketball these days, and with so much experience, including a wealth of NCAA Tournament experience, the Gators have a big advantage that will surely help them go far in the tournament once again.
Strong Post Presence
Florida big man Patric Young has struggled at times this year, and he’s not quite the dominant post player he’s capable of becoming, but without a lot of strong interior players in college basketball these days, Young is one of the best around. The Gators tend to be perimeter oriented, but at some point in the tournament the outside shots may not be falling, and so they’ll to go to Young, who’s capable of scoring inside. Florida won’t see too many big men that are as big, as physical, and as athletic as Young, which is an advantage they’ll have to exploit.
He’s still young compared to the Jim Boeheim’s, Rick Pitino’s, and Coach K’s of the world, but Billy Donovan is still one of the best coaches in college basketball. This is the guy that convinced an entire national championship winning team to return to school for another year, coaching them to another national championship amid great expectations. Donovan knows how to get the attention of his team, and he knows how to put them in the right position. If Florida goes out before the Final Four, it won’t be because Donovan was outcoached.
The Gators are one of the nation’s best defensive teams. They can press in order to create turnovers or they can put pressure on a team just to be a nuisance and throw them off rhythm. In addition to being a good defensive team, Florida has a lot of good individual on-ball defenders. Scottie Wilbekin can lock down opposing guards, Will Yeguete can handle any forward, and Patric Young is as good as they get in the post. As impressive as the Gators are on offense, their defense is just as good and just as important to their success.
They Are Finally At Full Strength
Florida has battled injuries all season long, as nearly every player in their rotation has missed at least one game, with Will Yueguete, Casey Prather, and Michael Frazier all missing extended periods of time. However, the Gators are as healthy as they’ve been at any point this year heading into the NCAA Tournament, and that’s a huge plus for them. Billy Donovan has his full arsenal of talent to use and plays a picture perfect eight-man rotation. Health matters in the tournament more than people realize, and Florida having its full contingent of players will help carry them a long way.