No. 3 seeds like Miami aren’t supposed to win the NCAA basketball tournament, right? Well, here’s a little inspiration for Hurricanes fans heading into Saturday’s second round, and it comes from the unlikeliest of sources.
The Florida Gators.
Florida won the first of its back-to-back national titles in 2006, rolling through the brackets as a No. 3 seed. The basic parallel is there, but it gets bolder and even a little bit spookier when you look at the first two opponents.
The Gators beat a No. 14 seed (South Alabama) and a No. 11 seed (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) on the opening weekend in 2006.
Miami’s first two opponents? A No. 14 seed (Hurricanes beat Buffalo 79-72 Thursday night) and a No. 11 seed (Wichita State) on Saturday.
Now we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but it generally takes some help to get a little momentum going in the tournament. The Gators got it that year when UW-Milwaukee knocked off No. 6 seed Oklahoma in the opening round. Miami got it Thursday night when Wichita State, a play-in team, upset No. 6 Arizona.
It’s a long, long, long way to go between here and the Final Four. It figures teams seeded higher than Miami will be the ones that get there.
One more confidence booster, though, as another round of crazy, scary, spectacular games begins.
Connecticut also won an NCAA title as a No. 3 seed in 2011 and again just two years ago as a No. 7.
Jim Larranaga may not use all of this in his motivational speeches but he’s always got a personal message in his back pocket. That 2006 Florida championship team had to fight its way past a real upstart in the national semifinals – Larranaga’s 11th-seeded George Mason Patriots.