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FSU, Miami, USF set to open NCAA women’s play

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The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has already provided some memorable upsets during the first two days of competition. Florida’s two teams in tournament, Miami and Florida Gulf Coast, did as expected. The Hurricanes got by Buffalo while the Eagles gave top-seed North Carolina a good fight before finally falling.

On Friday the women’s tournament began with a few surprises and Saturday will undoubtedly provide more. Five Florida teams were among the 64 teams announced on Monday.

The Big Three of Miami, Florida and Florida State all earned number five seeds, pitting them against number 12 seeds in their region. Jacksonville earned a 16 seed while the South Florida Lady Bulls are a number six seed.

Without the high flying leaps and dunks, the women play a more fundamental brand of basketball, which is often entertaining to watch. But in all honesty, the highlight for the overwhelming majority of these teams would be a trip to the Final Four.

The 5,000-pound gorilla is the Connecticut Huskies, who are the overwhelming favorites to yet again go undefeated and cut down the nets when all is said and done. They are that dominating.

All of UConn’s 32 victories have come by double-digit margins. Two of the other three top seeds, Notre Dame and South Carolina, have only one loss – to the Huskies.

While the men’s teams saw multiple double-digit seeds pull off upsets, the first day of the women’s tournament followed suit. Unfortunately, the Florida Lady Gators became a victim.

The 12th-seeded Albany Great Danes overcame a 17-point deficit to stun Florida, 61-59. The Gators led by 11 points with 7:49 left.

Jacksonville took a 77-41 beating at the hands of South Carolina, the top seed in the Sioux Falls Region. Still, the Dolphins finished with a respectable 22-12 season.

Saturday has Florida’s remaining three in action. First up is the Florida State Seminoles, the fifth seed in the Dallas Region. They will play Middle Tennessee State in College Station, Texas. This comes one day after the Blue Raiders men’s team pulled off the biggest upset in years with their win over championship contender Michigan State.

A Seminoles win would likely pit them against fourth-seeded Texas A&M on Monday on the Aggies home floor. Game time is 1:30 on ESPN2.

Miami, the fifth seed in the Lexington Region, is in Palo Alto, California to face the 12th-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits. This just sounds like it will be a fast-paced game.

A Hurricanes win would likely have them facing fourth-seeded Stanford on the Cardinal’s home court on Monday. Game time is 6:30 p.m. and will be shown regionally on ESPN2.

South Florida is the sixth seed in the Bridgeport, Connecticut region. Their 9:00 p.m. game in Los Angeles can be called the battle between gender-confused mascots.

The Lady Bulls will face the 11th-seeded Colorado State Rams for the right to advance and likely play UCLA on Monday on the Bruins’ home court. The game can be seen in the Tampa Bay area on ESPN2.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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