USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology: Why Florida is the most dangerous team – USA TODAY
Gonzaga will spend another week atop the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll.
USA TODAY Sports
Florida coach Michael White has never reached the NCAA tournament with any team he’s coached, though he sure knows how to get teams close. At Louisiana Tech, he guided the Bulldogs to three consecutive seasons of 27 wins or more. And last year, Florida was one of the first teams out on the bubble in his first season at the helm.
Suffice it to say, the Gators (19-5, 9-2) are going dancing in 2017. They sport a top-10 RPI, a top-five non-conference strength of schedule that included their first 11 games away from home, and four of their five losses have come against top 25 teams.
A few weeks back, the only thing missing on the Gators’ rÃ©sumÃ© was a signature win to serve as eye candy for the selection committee. They got that in the form of a 22-point drubbing of Kentucky last Saturday to take command of the SEC. That was followed by a 12-point road win at Georgia on Tuesday night. Even with the Billy Donovan era long gone, Florida is still Florida. And that means as a contender. If we’re searching for Final Four darkhorse teams here in early February, this squad should be at the top of the list.
âºÂ No. 1 seeds:Â Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor
âºÂ Last four in:Â California, Kansas State, Marquette, Rhode Island
âºÂ First four out:Â Michigan, Clemson, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt
Moving in: Rhode Island
Moving out: Clemson
âº Others considered for at-large bids (in no particular order):Â Illinois, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Providence, Nebraska, Stanford, Wichita State, Texas A&M, Houston, Memphis, Ohio State, Iowa, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Miami, Charleston, Temple, Georgia, Utah, North Carolina State, Georgetown
âº No longer considered:Â UConn, Texas, Texas-Arlington, Charleston, New Mexico, Boise State, LaSalle, Davidson, Chattanooga, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, BYU, Oklahoma
âº Â Multi-bid conferences:Â ACC (9), Big TenÂ (7), Big 12 (7), Big East (6), Pac-12 (5), SEC (4), A-10 (3), AACÂ (2), WCC (2).
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âº Â Or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences – (23 total):Â Vermont (America East), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun),Â Weber State (Big Sky), Winthrop (Big South), UC Davis (Big West), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Middle Tennessee State (Conference USA),Â Valparaiso (Horizon), Yale (Ivy League), Monmouth (MAAC), Akron (MAC), N.C. Central (MEAC), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), Nevada (Mountain West), Mount Saint Mary’s (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), Furman (Southern), Sam Houston (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC), North Dakota State (Summit), Arkansas State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC).
- Banned from participating:Â Hawaii, Southern Mississippi, Alcorn State, Savannah State, Northern Colorado
- Transition Schools, ineligible for the tourney:Â Abilene Christian (Southland), Grand Canyon (WAC), Incarnate Word (Southland), Massachusetts-Lowell (American East) Â Â
Note:Â All RPI and statistical data is used fromÂ WarrenNolan.com.
About our bracketologist:Â Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 and has finished as one of the top 5 national bracketologists for his website,Â Bracket W.A.G.Â Heâs predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on TwitterÂ @BracketWag.
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