PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBSMiami) – The seventh-seeded Florida Gators will go from Cinderella-killer to underdog when they take the court Thursday night against the Marquette Golden Eagles in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Both schools came into the tournament playing very poorly. Marquette lost two of three including its first Big East tournament game. Florida dropped four of five, including brutal losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt to end the season.
Florida hasn’t been tested in the tournament yet with blowout wins over Virginia and Norfolk State. Marquette has played tougher games, but the losses at the end of the season may have been just what the doctor ordered for both squads.
“I saw our team making strides and getting better,” Gators head coach Billy Donovan said. “I think the biggest thing I tried to do was keep their confidence level high, that they were doing the right things and this is the thing we needed to confront and get better to push us over the hump a little bit.”
“Just wake up and go to work,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “We’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Our players aren’t perfect. And so regardless of the outcome, whether it’s win or lose, we still have the same protocol and the same itinerary the following day, then the next day and the next day. Just continue to work and try to improve.”
Marquette plays a version of small ball having as many as four guards on the floor at one time. Florida plays a more traditional offense, but loves to bomb away from behind the three-point line.
Florida leads the nation in three-pointers with 9.8 per game and both squads average better than 70 points per game. Las Vegas oddsmakers gave the over/under of the game, meaning how many total points will be scored, at 145.5. That’s the highest number for any regional semifinals game.
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