Defending champion Gators struggling to reach NCAA tournament Print
Written by Admin   
Tuesday, 04 March 2008 02:02
NCAAB Headline News


 GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Florida guard Jai Lucas came up with the idea to shave an ``F'' into the side of his teammates' heads before Saturday's game against Mississippi State.
It was meant to be a sign of unity as the Gators tried to state their case for making the NCAA tournament.
But the whole thing went awry - maybe a fitting statement given how the season has turned for the two-time defending national champions.
After starting 18-3 and beating then-No. 14 Vanderbilt by 22 points, the Gators (21-8, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) have lost five of their last eight games and might need a couple of upsets to make their 10th consecutive NCAA tournament.
``We all know what's at stake,'' freshman forward Adam Allen said Monday. ``We know we've got to win some games to get in the tournament. Nobody wants to go to the NIT. It's like the champion of the losers if you win that. Everybody wants to play in the NCAA tournament.''
For the Gators to get back there, they might need to beat No. 4 Tennessee on Wednesday night and maybe win at Kentucky on Sunday. Otherwise, they might have to win the Southeastern Conference tournament.
``We need at least one of them,'' Allen said. ``If we lose both these games, it's going to be really hard to get into the tournament. I don't see how we can do it if we lose both of them.''
No one really expected Florida to be in the mix for an NCAA berth before the season. After all, coach Billy Donovan had four players leave school early and lost his top six scorers off the title team.
Three of them - Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer - were NBA lottery picks. That left Donovan with a junior, three sophomores and five freshmen, the least experienced team in his 12-year tenure.
``We have not been able to offset the departure of six guys,'' Donovan said. ``I knew that coming in. I knew what this was going to be like in terms of testing myself, our coaching staff and these guys. I don't think there's anyone, with where we're at right now, that's saying, 'This caught me off guard, or boy, I'm surprised, it's not what I expected.'''
Nonetheless, the Gators have proven to be formidable when they shoot well and don't have to defend bigger, stronger, more athletic opponents.
It worked early.
But Florida has been exposed lately. Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State manhandled the Gators down low.
Tennessee and Kentucky could be somewhat better matchups inside. Then again, the Gators needed overtime to hold off the Wildcats in Gainesville in January and got outscored 58-30 to close out a blowout against the Volunteers in Knoxville last month.
The Gators, whose NCAA tournament resume includes an RPI of 61 and a strength of schedule ranking of 105, need to play much better in the second meetings to turn things around.
``Definitely there's more pressure on us,'' forward Alex Tyus said. ``But I feel like we already put ourselves in a bad position, so now what we need to do is come out there and get the win, don't worry about who we're playing.''
Players had the same attitude before facing Mississippi State, and Lucas believed the head-shavings would be a nice touch.
But after the first lines were cut, he realized an ``F'' was going to be ``too outrageous,'' so he went in a different direction.
The Gators can only hope the same will happen on the court.
``Any year not in the NCAA tournament is a bad year for Florida,'' Allen said. ``The coaches try not to (say), 'If we lose, we're done.' They don't try to throw that out there. I think we all know in our minds that we have to get something done here.''
 

NCAABB Team Pages

Top NCAABB Public Bets

View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

NCAABB Futures

NCAA BASKETBALL TEAM MENS TOURNAMENT ODDS CURRENT
KENTUCKY 4/1
ARIZONA 8/1
DUKE 10/1
WISCONSIN 12/1
KANSAS 14/1
FLORIDA 14/1
NORTH CAROLINA 16/1
VILLANOVA 25/1
WICHITA STATE 28/1
LOUISVILLE 28/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com