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NCAA Basketball Florida GatorsMarch Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why Florida Will Survive The Sweet 16

2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why Florida Will Survive The Sweet 16

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David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

There were some fantastic games in the NCAA tournament this past weekend, and there is still more great college basketball to be played. Just look at the Florida vs. UCLA matchup, which should be an excellent game. Hopefully for the sake of Florida fans and those who have Florida as the national champion in their brackets, this article won’t jinx the Gators. Here are five reasons why Florida will survive the Sweet 16.

5. Florida Has Made the Elite 8 the Past Three Seasons

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Florida Has Made the Elite 8 the Past Three Seasons

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This is an incredible feat and it speaks to the consistency of the Florida program. In addition, Florida is the only program to reach the Sweet 16 four straight years.

4. Florida’s Defense

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4. Florida’s Defense

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Yes, UCLA has a great offense, but Florida has the No. 2 defense in the nation. The Gators are allowing .888 points per possession. Only the Arizona Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the West region, are better (.872 points per possession). The Gators have held 13 of their last 21 opponents under 60 points, and four of their last seven opponents under 50 points.

3. Senior Leadership

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

3. Senior Leadership

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At this time of year, it usually pays to have seniors. They make better decisions, which in turn mean fewer mistakes and probably fewer turnovers. Florida is led by three seniors — Scottie Wilbekin (guard), Will Yeguete (forward) and Patric Young (center). UCLA is led by two sophomores -- guard Jordan Adams and guard/forward Kyle Anderson.

2. Guard Play

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Guard Play

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Guard play is vital in the NCAA tournament. Florida has Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II. It would be surprising to see those two (especially Wilbekin) give subpar performances on Thursday night and get outplayed by the UCLA guards.

1. Coaching

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Coaching

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This is not an indictment on UCLA coach Steve Alford, who is a good coach, but it is his first season with the Bruins. By contrast, Billy Donovan has been at Florida since the 1996-97 season and he has won two national titles as the head coach of the Gators.