NCAA MARCH MADNESS: Gators, Seminoles, Canes Ready Dance Shoes for 2018 Tournament
By Alan Zlotorzynski // March 12, 2018
UVA No.1 Overall Seed, SEC sends record 8 teams
ABOVE VIDEO: From its inception in 1939, March Madness has captivated fans across the nation. See how the tournament and the game has evolved since its humble beginnings.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Three teams and two conferences will represent the Sunshine State in the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament which gets underway later this week in cities around the country.
The Florida Gators are back again after coming within one win of reaching the Final Four last season.
Led by head coach Mike White, Florida is headed to Dallas to start the NCAA Tournament, drawing a No. 6 seed and an opening matchup Thursday night with the winner of St. Bonaventure and UCLA’s First Four matchup.
The Gators’ path to the postseason has been rocky and unpredictable, right up through this past weekend when they lost in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals 80-72 to Arkansas.
Prior to that, the Gators (20-12) had posted three straight impressive wins, over Auburn, Alabama, and Kentucky, the eventual SEC Tournament champion.
It’s worth noting the Southeastern Conference, which is considered a football powerhouse, has eight teams dancing into the tournament, which easily eclipses the six teams the SEC has put into the tournament nine times, most recently in 2008.
Florida State Back For the Sixth Time in 10-Years:
ABOVE VIDEO: The Florida State Seminoles have earned a 9-seed in the West Region of NCAA Tournament. ‘Noles fans can get ready for the madness as Leonard Hamilton and company get ready to make a run in March.
The Atlantic Coast Conference will send the most teams with nine, including the Florida State Seminoles, who will make their second straight tournament appearance. It is the sixth time in the last 10 years Leonard Hamilton and his team will go dancing in mid-March.
Florida State is a No. 9 seed in the West region and will open play against No. 8-seed Missouri (20-12) in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday. If FSU wins they would face the winner of No. 1 Xavier and NC Central/Texas Southern on Sunday.
The Seminoles (20-11, 9-9) were beaten easily last year by Xavier in Orlando to end a what many thought could be a promising Cinderella run in the 2017 Tournament.
Florida State finished 4-6 over their final 10 games and finished in eighth place in the 15-team Atlantic Coast Conference this past season. The Noles were bounced early in their only game in this year’s ACC tournament by the Louisville Cardinals.
Hurricanes with Chance to have Best Showing:
ABOVE VIDEO: The Miami Hurricanes have earned a 6-seed in the South Region of NCAA Tournament. ‘Canes fans can get ready for the madness as Jim Larrañaga and company gets ready to make a run in March.
The team most think to have the best shot to do the most damage from Florida is the Miami Hurricanes.
The Canes, a No.6 seed in the tough South Region (22-9) will be dancing for the third consecutive year under head coach Jim Larrañaga.
Miami will tip-off the tournament on Thursday against No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago in Dallas. The South Region also features the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, No.2 seed Cincinnati Bearcats, No.4 seed Arizona Wildcats and the fifth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats.
Teams must be able to overcome adversity and bring athletic players to the NCAA Tournament and the Canes can put a check mark in each of those columns.
Miami overcame the loss of a key player Bruce Brown to finish 4-1 in their final five games. They received great play from their potential NBA draft -ready prospect in Lonnie Walker IV, who averaged 14 points per game and hit an amazing 42 percent from beyond the arc in those five games.
The Canes were knocked out of the ACC Tournament by North Carolina last week. The one issue Miami will have to overcome is finding ways to lose games late. However, if recent trends are any indication, Miami may have turned the corner.
Their final four games of the regular season, all wins, were decided by a combined eight points.
PLAY SPACE COAST DAILY’S BRACKET CHALLENGE:
Stay tuned to Space Coast Daily as we release our 2018 NCAA Brackett Challenge Contest for this year’s tournament.
Coming up Tuesday night, Alan Zlotorzynski of Space Coast Daily will host the second annual Bracket Roundtable Show where a panel of college basketball experts breakdown and predict this year’s field of 68.
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