If the Florida Gators play like they did on Saturday, they have a chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Florida smothered the beleaguered Virginia Cavaliers, 65-39 in a second round game at the Amway Center in Orlando.
This game was expected to be a defensive-oriented contest since neither team was known as offensive juggernauts. Florida has shown the ability to post big wins when they shoot around 50 percent. Three straight 30-point blowouts and a 22-point smashing of Kentucky are good examples.
Saturday’s game looked a lot like those four. The Gators hit 46 percent of their shots, including 38 percent of their three-point attempts. ,Devin Robinson, who had an outstanding two days in Orlando, and Justin Leon posted double-doubles.
The Cavaliers, even on the few occasions they were open, struggled mightily. They clanked 70 percent of their shots, 14 of their 15 three-point attempts.
Holding any major college team to 39 points isn’t easy, let alone the big stage of the Big Dance. It was a performance worthy of a Sweet 16 team – Florida’s next destination – or maybe even a Final Four participant.
“We’ve played really well at times this year,” said Florida Coach Mike White. “We’ve added a couple of wrinkles and got rid of a couple of wrinkles.”
Going into Saturday, the Gators thought that a victory over Virginia would give them a crack at the tournament’s top seed, defending champion Villanova. Instead, they will face eighth-seeded (the selection committee made a big mistake) Wisconsin in the East Region semi-finals in New York.
The Badgers are similar to Virginia in preferring a deliberate style of play, but the Wisconsin offense is better than Virginia’s. It promises to be hand-to-hand combat.
Whatever the style of play, White is just happy his team will still be practicing this week.
“We’re not done playing,” he said. “We’re excited about next weekend.”