Figure 1 March Madness is finally here!
College hoops fans have been waiting for this. Finally, Selection Sunday has been and gone and now we know not just the identities of the teams taking part in the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments – but the all-important seedings and brackets as well.
Florida betting sites would be going into overdrive right now, and fans across the state will feverishly be working out their brackets to be ready for the start of the two tournaments. There hasn’t been a lot of Florida success at March Madness for quite a while now, but could that all change this year?
This time of year is special for sports fans. Baseball season hasn’t quite enjoyed its Opening Day and the Super Bowl is just a faint memory for anyone outside of Kansas City. But the men’s March Madness is something that everyone – even non-college basketball fans – gets excited about.
Florida, as a state, has only tasted glory at March Madness on two occasions. The back-to-back wins for the Florida Gators back in 2006 and 2007 are the only times the championship has ever come home to the Sunshine State. The Gators won’t be there this year though, with Florida State and the University of Miami the only representatives.
The Hurricanes reached the Elite Eight for the first time in the school’s history last year and received an at-large bid this year after losing out to Duke in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. A first round game against Drake is Miami’s reward – and if a win is recorded there it could be number four seed Indiana in the second round. Not many neutrals will have the Canes going much further than that, although there is the potential for a Sweet 16 match up with the favorites to win it all, the Houston Cougars.
The other rep from the state is the Florida Atlantic Owls. It has been an excellent season for fifth-year head coach Dusty May and his team. A 31-3 overall record, including 18-2 in conference play, saw the Owls go into the C-USA tournament in confident mood. Three games later they were conference champs and now face Memphis in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
That could be a very tough game at Madison Square Garden and a win would probably mean facing the number one seed Purdue in the second round. As with the Hurricanes, most people will see Florida’s participation at March Madness end there. But there have been some very good wins this year and Coach May will be privately thinking that his team could go on a good run.
Figure 2 Florida Atlantic will be playing at the iconic Madison Square Garden
Switching to the women’s tournament, Florida has four schools going for the big prize – one that South Carolina is expected to claim at the beginning of April. South Florida came up against Miami in the first round of the tournament last year and bowed out early. But this year there will be a desire to get over the disappointment of losing to Wichita State in the ACC tournament.
Marquette Golden Eagles are first up before the possibility of facing those South Carolina Gamecocks. The Bulls will need to be on their game to win that one. The Hurricanes women’s team make it a one-two at March Madness and they face a tough first round game against Oklahoma State. If they win that one, there will be the chance to go up against a number one seed in the form of Indiana. It has been an up and down season for Miami, so expectations will not be great.
If the Canes do get through as far as the Sweet 16, there is an outside chance that they could meet FGCU. That would seem to be a long shot but the Eagles have been utterly dominant in the ASUN Conference this year and won the championship with a 32-3 overall record. It would still need a lot of surprise outcomes for that clash to become a reality though.
The final team in the tournament this year is the Florida State Seminoles. The season has gone downhill at precisely the wrong time for FSU, with a loss in the second round of the ACC tournament in the most recent game. Now the Seminoles must beat Georgia for a chance to face number three in the country Iowa. As with all the other Florida teams, we live in hope.