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Miami, FGCU make NCAA field; Gators, Seminoles, Ospreys to NIT

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Only two teams from Florida are participating in this year’s NCAA Tournament. By the time the “Big Dance” begins in full on Thursday, there may only be one remaining.

The Miami Hurricanes will continue their outstanding season on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island. Miami earned a No. 3 seed in the South Region and will take on the 14th-seeded Buffalo Bulls, champions of the Mid-America Conference.

As far as Miami goes, they could face the No. 6 seed Arizona Wildcats and the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats. Should they make the regional final, the Hurricanes (25-7) could face the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks (30-4).

The other Florida team in the field made quite a splash the last time they were in the field. The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, made a surprise run to the Sweet 16 in 2013.

This year will be much more difficult. The Eagles (20-14) will play Tuesday night in one of the four “play-in games” in Dayton, Ohio, against Farleigh Dickinson. Should they win that game, FGCU would face top-seeded North Carolina on Thursday.

The NCAA Tournament bracket is here.

As expected, both Florida and Florida State received bids to the NIT. The Gators have the strangest road ahead.

The 32 teams are broken into eight “quadrants,” meaning one of the four teams in that quadrant will host first and second round games. One of those is the “Florida Quadrant,” but despite a No. 2 seed, the Gators will not be hosting anything.

Since the O’Connell Center is undergoing improvements, Florida cannot host any games until next season. Florida will face No. 7 seed North Florida, but the game will be played on Tuesday in Jacksonville, home of the Ospreys.

Should the Gators (19-14) win that game, they would play the winner of third-seeded Ohio State and sixth-seeded Akron on the road. Monmouth is the top seed in the group.

Florida State (19-13) is seeded fourth in their group. The Seminoles will host Davidson on Tuesday.

If they are able to beat the Wildcats, a trip to Valparaiso, Indiana is likely in order. Valparaiso enters the NIT 26-6.

While the NCAA Tournament has its share of upsets, the NIT provides some surprise winners as well. Many times this occurs because some of the higher seeded teams had higher expectations than the NIT and play accordingly.

The NIT field can be found here.

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

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