Pulling for Florida on principle and hoping Kansas can survive the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament is a snapshot of one man’s bracket.
A six-game run by the Gators would be celebrated by those who despise the idea that a college is a nine-month layover for an NBA draft selection. I don’t blame the one and done players or the coaches who rely on them, but I prefer Billy Donovan’s lineup that includes four seniors. That said, I am not naïve enough to think if the Gators cut down the nets on April 7, John Calipari at Kentucky or Bill Self at Kansas or Mike Krzyzewski at Duke is going to turn down a lottery pick who is looking to play three dozen college games.
The odd thing about Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young, Casey Prather and Will Yequete playing four years in Gainesville is that they are more than guys who play well with others; they all have skills and will get an opportunity to play pro ball. In fact, Wilbekin might be the best point guard in college.
Individuals dunk with a poster in mind; Young’s desperate dive for a loose ball in the Tennessee game is the poster for team Florida.
The Gators just happen to be in the bracket with Kansas, my pick to win it all if the Jayhawks can get by Eastern Kentucky on Friday and the New Mexico-Stanford winner on Sunday. Kansas center Joel Embiid is not expected to play this weekend because of a bad back and no team in the country can plug in somebody to replace a 7-footer who is being compared to Tim Duncan and Akeem Olajuwon.
With Embiid and fellow freshman lottery pick Andrew Wiggins, the Jayhawks have the best one-two in the country.
Embiid sat out the final two games of the regular season and the first two games of the Big 12 tournament although his absence is not the only reason the Jayhawks lost to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament.
Iowa State made 8-of-12 3s in the first half, 11 of their first 16, and outscored the Jayhawks by 21 from beyond the arc.
There is not a team in the field immune to a team that shoots well for 40 minutes and the eventual national champion will survive at least one close call, begging the question whether that team has the right stuff. It’s all about winning and moving on.
My favorite golfer didn’t play his best in every round of the ASGA State Match Play from 1985-88, but he was 18-1 and won three championships.
Looking for the double-digit seed that survives the first week like Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, I gave up and embraced the chalk.
To me, the top 16 seeds are the cream and virtually interchangeable. I know all of them won’t advance, but a loss by any of them will be a surprise. The closest I came to being on out on a limb was picking No. 6 North Carolina over No. 3 Iowa State and No. 5 Oklahoma over No. 4 San Diego State. Gutsy, right?
During and after the NCAA selection show on Sunday, I thought the experts were overboard on Michigan State and Louisville, both No. 4 seeds. Maybe it’s the influence of the talking heads, but the betting line provided by Bovada.lv has Michigan State as a close second choice to Florida at 6-1 and Louisville next at 6.5-1. After those three come the other No. 1 seeds, Arizona, Virginia, and Wichita State, at 9-1 and 10-1. Kansas is also 10-1.
The next half-dozen teams are No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. Surprisingly, eighth-seeded Kentucky is the next wagering choice. Playing as a team, the Wildcats had a chance to beat Florida in the SEC Tournament. Every game, Florida is a team.
Harry King is a sports columnist. His email is HLeonK42@gmail.com.