GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami) – The last time the Florida Gators tasted defeat, the team was in Connecticut watching the Huskies celebrate a last-second victory off the hands of guard Shabazz Napier. Fast forward thirty victories later and a classic Final Four matchup is ready for Saturday.
It will have been almost 120 days since the Gators were beaten on that cold December day. The craziness of the final play in the Huskies’ victory over Florida will be talked about for years.
Napier took the ball at the top of the key, dribbled, lost the ball, broke through a double-team, threw up a wild shot, the ball then went off a teammate’s fingers back into Napier’s hands and he quickly shot what turned out to be the game-winning shot.
That’s all that stands between Florida having just one loss heading into the Final Four on Saturday.
For UConn, they have a chance to bookend the Gators’ season with two defeats, although the second would be much harder for Florida to stomach. But the Gators will be out for revenge against one of the teams to put a blemish on its record.
Incidentally, it’s possible the Gators can get revenge on both the teams that beat them this year if Florida wins and Wisconsin wins to play in the championship game.
Still, despite Florida being a seven-point favorite, the Gators are going to have to earn a berth in the national championship game. UConn has sailed through the tournament with big victories including a win over the favored Michigan State Spartans.
The Gators have a couple of added advantages this time around with the additions of Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, who both missed the first game. Adding them to a lineup that will feature a healthy Scottie Wilbekin could be the difference this time around.
The two teams have wildly different expectations up to this point in the tournament. UConn has outplayed the expectations most had by reaching the Final Four. For Florida, it’s championship or bust.
It will be hard to top the first meeting between these two, but UConn and Florida will try when they play in the Final Four on Saturday.