Note to self, Florida might be the best team in the southeast bracket of the NCAA.
After holding off UCLA 73-65 in front of a Florida dominated crowd the Gators have positioned themselves as the team to beat in that region.
Not bad for a squad that was considered by many as a team that got a fluke two seed.
The man mostly responsible for Florida’s longest tourney run since the Joakim Noah title teams of the 2000’s is Erving Walker.
After Jai Lucas bolted Gainesville for Austin, Walker stepped right in and stepped up way past his diminutive 5-8 height.
Against UCLA Walker made all of the plays necessary to hold the Bruins at bay. He scored 10 o the Gators last 12 points, hit a three that put them up for good an hit and unreal circus shot in the paint over 6-10 305 pound Josh Smith that will require multiple replays to gain understanding for what he just did.
Walkers clutch play more than made up for the lack of production from Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton who couldn’t find their shot all day.
What they couldn’t get on offense they more than made up for on the defensive end holding the Bruins to 41% shooting including 23% from three. The shots that the Bruins got against the Spartans were non-existent today with the perimeter play and inside presence of Alex Tyus who neutralized Smith on the boards.
All of the bad momentum that followed Florida from the SEC tournament has been erased in two games including the 79-51 beat down of UCSB. The Gators have taken control of the weakest bracket in the field and look to be a serious Final Four contender.
The rest of the bracket gives them more fuel for their optimism.
Up next are possible matchups with either BYU or Gonzaga. Without Brandon Davies in the middle there isnt an answer to hold Tyus and Florida is more than capable of limiting Jimmer Fredette. And while Gonzaga does have athleticism they’re not as disciplined as the Gators on offense or defense.
So you can pencil the Gators into the elite 8. What most experts perceived to be a short stay in the tourney might be a long one. Florida has proven themselves to be worthy of that controversial number two seed and could bring back the glory days of just 4 years ago with another run to the Final Four.
Not bad for a team that was supposed to be done before the beginning of spring.