Only three Gator teams ever made it to the Sweet 16 more easily than this one

 

No telling what will happen to the Florida Gators vs. Wisconsin on Friday night, but it’s been a shockingly easy ride so far.

With a total victory margin of 41 points in wins over East Tennessee State and Virginia, the Gators rank fourth in program history in terms of domination on the way to the Sweet 16 round.

ORLANDO, FL – Devin Robinson #1 and Justin Leon of the Florida Gators react in the first half against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Amway Center on March 18, 2017 in Orlando. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The 2012 Gators won their first two games in the NCAA tournament by a total of 60 points (plus-26 over Virginia and plus-34 over Norfolk State). That group, featuring Bradley Beal, Kenny Boynton and Patric Young, lost to Louisville in the Elite Eight.

Florida’s 2007 national championship team reached the Sweet 16 round with a total victory margin of 50 points (43 over Jackson State and seven over Purdue).

The Gators’ first national champions in 2006 had a 48-point edge over two opening opponents (26 over South Alabama and 22 over Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

Of course, it helps to have low-seeded teams as opponents in the opening rounds, but any NCAA tournament game is a potential face-plant. Mike White’s 2017 Gators don’t have a fistful of NBA players, like the championship teams of Billy Donovan. Also, this group had to beat a No. 5 seed on the way to the Sweet 16 round, which is more than was asked of those monster Gator teams listed above.

To this point, White’s only disappointment has been getting so little scoring from KeVaughn Allen, an All-SEC first-teamer, and Canyon Barry. They averaged 26 points per game as a pair during the regular season. In the NCAA tournament they are scoring less than half of that (5.5 points per game for Allen and 7.0 for Barry).

Get those two guys going against Wisconsin, plus the same overall defensive effort that has been a hallmark for the Gators this season, and there may still be another gear for Florida to hit.

The Badgers are tournament-tough, of course, and represent a major problem. Twice in the last three years Wisconsin reached the Final Four, including an appearance in the national title game against Duke in 2015. Florida has no experience to rival that, from the head coach on down.

[Most got in free for inaugural NCAA basketball championship in 1939]

[From the franchise’s darkest history comes inspiration for today’s Heat]

[Reliving Wilt’s 100-point game with two Palm Beach County eyewitnesses]

Every year is different, however, and every matchup. Try this mindless trivia on for size.

Wisconsin won the 1941 NCAA tournament with a 39-34 victory over Washington State in the championship game. Virginia scored 39 points in the second round of the 2017 tournament and lost by 26 points to the Gators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FSU leads the nation in comprehensive competitiveness

Congratulations to Florida State for nearing a tipping point of achievement that rarely gets noted around here.

The Seminoles are ranked nearly as high in basketball (No. 10 in the latest AP poll) as the FSU football team was in 2016’s final poll (No. 8).

This is fairly amazing stuff, and there’s an opportunity for Leonard Hamilton’s hoops team to climb even higher with No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 12 Louisville coming to Tallahassee this week.

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

For two-sport domination, no other school comes close at the moment. FSU is the only program with top-10 teams in football and basketball according to the most current polls.

The other contenders are well back.

Louisville is No. 12 in basketball and finished No. 21 in football.

Wisconsin pairs a No. 17 basketball ranking with a No. 9 football finish.

Florida is up to No. 19 in hoops. A little bit more and they’ll catch the Gator football team at No. 14. This has happened before, of course, with back-to-back national titles in basketball during Billy Donovan’s great years, but in a football-crazy state like this one, Mike White deserves more headlines for even coming close.

Miami has the most climbing to do. Unranked in basketball, the Hurricanes finished No. 20 in Mark Richt’s first season as football coach. Jim Larranaga just picked up his 600th career victory, however, and he’s gotten the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 a couple of times so it’s obvious the school is in good shape across the board.

Here’s another burst of fireworks for FSU. The Seminoles also are No. 7 in the AP poll for women’s basketball. Miami’s women also rank highly at No. 14.

We’ll check back as the hoops season goes on, unless all you want to talk about by then is college football recruiting, which would mean that everything is back to normal no matter what three pretty competitive basketball programs have to say about it.

 

[Steve Shepherd, Dave Lewter enter Florida Boxing Hall of Fame]

[Bob D’Angio was king of close calls during great run at Forest Hill]

[Lane Kiffin revival tent comes to Florida Atlantic]