The North Florida Ospreys began last season by giving the Florida Gators everything they could handle. They then finished the 2014-15 season by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title and A-Sun Tournament en route to a berth in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Ospreys lost in the First Four to the Robert Morris Colonials, but should be a heavy favorite to return heading into 2015-16.
There is no doubt that this team boasts the most talented, experienced roster in the A-Sun. North Florida returns five of their top six players in terms of minutes per game, as well as their three leading scorers, Dallas Moore, Beau Beech and Chris Davenport. This team is built for Atlantic Sun domination and has the depth to pull off an upset or two in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
The Ospreys’ opening non-conference game against the Illinois Fighting Illini is a winnable game, but North Florida will go on the road against the Louisville Cardinals, Saint Louis Billikens, LSU Tigers, Dayton Flyers, Arkansas Razorbacks and VCU Rams. Five of those teams look to be headed to the 2016 NCAA Tournament, so North Florida could be in for a rough time pre-Atlantic Sun play.
Once they enter conference play, however, things should be smooth sailing. The top teams from the A-Sun from last season have lost most of their weapons, and the bottom teams are not ready to compete with an experienced squad like the Ospreys.
Watch for North Florida to struggle a bit in non-conference play, dominate in conference play and easily make the NCAA Tournament by winning the A-Sun Tournament. Matthew Driscoll’s team is not one that any team will want to face in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.