There are 13 D1 college basketball teams in the state of Florida, and with 11 days to go before March Madness Selection Sunday, only two of them, the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Atlantic Owls, are likely to be in the Big Dance.
There is no legal Florida sports betting, but the other 11 schools are severe longshots nationally.
Miami (23-6, 14-5) sits second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and certainly will get an at-large bid if they don’t win the conference tournament. This year’s Jim Larranaga squad is led by junior Isaiah Wong.
While the Hurricanes lost the other day to ACC rival Florida State, Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles are going to have to go on a crazy run to make the NCAA’s or the NIT. Florida State is 9-21, 7-12, tied for 11th in the ACC. FSU’s only way into the Big Dance is to win the ACC Tourney. The season got off to a shockingly bad start for Florida State with a home loss to in-state Stetson.
The other Florida squad with realistic March Madness aspirations is Florida Atlantic. The Owls, from Boca Raton, are 26-3, 16-2, 1st in Conference USA. They also are 18th in the NET rankings at NCAA.com and are having their best season ever. Coach Dusty May’s squad is led by sophomore Johnell Davis.
Schools Now Outside Looking In
The University of Florida has an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament with a strong performance in the SEC Tournament. They’re 15-15, 8-9, for a three-way tie for eighth in the SEC, and 59th in the NET rankings. Working in the Gators’ favor is a win over Tennessee. Working against them is losing six of their last eight and an injury to 6-11 star Colin Castleton.
One other Florida team with a chance at the Tournament is surprising Stetson (17-13, 12-6, tied for 3rd in the Atlantic Sun). Stetson will have to win the Atlantic Sun Tournament, but that’s possible: Liberty and Kennesaw St. are the only teams ahead of them, the Hatters have won seven of their last nine and they lost by one to Kennesaw St. in overtime. Their problem is that Liberty crushed them during the regular season, 76-45.
Central Florida, 16-12, 7-9, 7th in the AAC and 71st in the rankings, is another team that’s going to have win its conference tournament to make the Big Dance, but that would likely mean a victory over Houston. The Knights better hope for an NIT bid.
It’s possible that another Florida team could pull a shocker in a conference tournament and win a bid, but . . .
- South Florida is 13-16, 6-10, 8th in the AAC, and would have to beat better teams before it even got to play Houston.
- In the Atlantic Sun, North Florida is 14-17, 9-9, tied for 7th, Florida Gulf Coast is 17-15, 7-11, tied for 9th and Jacksonville is 13-16, 6-12, 11th. All have the same roadblock with a better Stetson team and a much better Liberty team.
- Florida International, 13-16, 7-11, tied for 7th in Conference USA, has a tough road with strong teams from UAB, North Texas and Florida Atlantic in its way.
- Two SWAC teams round out our list: With 1st place Grambling only 175 on the computer upsets are possible, but Bethune Cookman is 11-19, 7-10, tied for 7th and Florida A&M is 7-21, 5-12 and 11th place. So enough upsets to get either into the Tournament are unlikely.