There are several formulas that produce NCAA national basketball champions.
The best, of course, is to be a dominate team, but that’s seldom the case and it certainly isn’t this year.
More often than not the eventual champion gets help.
Getting a good draw on where you play is a key. The Gators, for example, will play their first two games in Orlando. That’s a good thing. Among other teams who won’t have to travel far for their early games are Syracuse (Buffalo), Virginia (Raleigh), Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Wichita State (St. Louis) and Duke (Raleigh).
Other factors include having upsets in your brackets, eliminating better teams before you’d play them. You can bet Florida is hoping Colorado upsets Pitt. That’d make the road to the Final Four so much easier. The Gators, in fact, have benefited from upsets the last two years in reaching the Elite 8.
Then there are such factors as avoiding injuries, not being on the wrong side of lousy calls and, finally, plain old luck.
Depth is seldom a big help in the tournament. Most coaches shorten their benches, using no more than seven, maybe, eight players. During the regular season few teams used more players at competitive times than the Gators. It will be interesting to see if Florida changes that.
From what I’ve seen Florida is the nation’s best team. Las Vegas has made the Gators the betting favorite. The Gators’ biggest shortcoming is they don’t have that one player who can carry a team a crunch time; that player who can take the ball and create his own shot. They’re called star players and, quite honestly, the Gators don’t seem to have one even though Scott Wilbekin was the SEC Player of the Year. Maybe the Gators have more “stars” than we realize but they play so well and unselfishly as a team we don’t recognize them.
I do know if they have a few things fall their way Coach Billy Donovan could well be taking home his third national championship trophy, putting him clearly in any discussion with the game’s all-time greats.
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