The Florida Gators defeated the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the Sweet Sixteen. Florida started off slow and let Florida Gulf Coast take a huge early lead, but the Gators’ toughness was too much for the Eagles. Ending the Eagles’ Cinderella story was not what the Gators’ players wanted to do; one of Florida’s players said, “If I wasn’t playing for Florida, I’d be rooting for Florida Gulf Coast.” Most of the country was rooting for Florida Gulf Coast too, but now it’s time to move on to the next round and focus on Michigan. More importantly, the win was necessary for Florida to make it to their third consecutive Elite Eight.
Three consecutive Elite Eight appearances is a big deal. The Gators under Billy Donovan have created a dynasty and consistently find themselves in the talk for one of the best teams in the country. It’s time that people start viewing Florida on the same level of consistency in NCAA Tournaments as Indiana, Michigan State and Duke and Donovan on the same level as Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski.
Florida won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. The Gators have the talent to win another, but they cannot slow down or take an opponent too lightly. It’s easy when a team beats all tournament opposition by double-digits to think that all the games will be that easy; Florida cannot do that. The talent that Michigan possesses is not to be taken lightly, as Kansas found out the hard way. The Elite Eight game between Florida and Michigan will be one of the best games of the tournament, and the winner should make the tournament finals.