On to the next round and a surprising opponent. The Florida Gators do NOT face the Missouri Tigers in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but instead take on the Norfolk State Spartans. On Friday, the Spartans became only the fifth No. 15 seed to ever take down a No. 2 seed (it would happen again that day to make it six).
Opponent: Norfolk State Spartans
When: Sun., Mar. 18, 2012 – 6:10 PM
Where: Omaha, NE
Records: Florida: 24-10, Norfolk State: 26-9
Seeds: Florida: 7, Norfolk State: 15
Current Streak: Florida: W1, Norfolk State: W8
Point Spread: Florida -14
Calculated Score: Florida 78-64/79-65
Point Scored: Florida: 76.3, Norfolk State: 69.0
Points Allowed: Florida: 66.0, Norfolk State: 66.1
After beating the Virginia Cavaliers in the second round of the Big Dance, many (if not all) expected the Florida Gators to be facing the Missouri Tigers in what would be a tough matchup for both teams. It’s still a tough matchup and cannot be written off, but the opponent is a very unlikely one. So unlikely that after another team pulled off the same feat on Friday, only six No. 15 seeds have EVER advanced to what is now called the third round.
On to Sunday and the Gators have assumed a different role than they were thought to inhabit. Against Missouri, Florida may have been perceived as the underdog. Against Norfolk State, the Gators are the evil stepmother trying to take down Cinderella. Few will be on Florida’s side during this game, but those few will be the orange and blue faithful. The rest of the nation will hope for another win for the Spartans. We love the little guy, but those of us with our feet firmly planted in Gator Nation don’t love him at the moment.
Look out for Kyle O’Quinn. He and I share a birthday (although years and years apart). That doesn’t give him a pass today as he is on the other side of the court. He’s the key for the Spartans and the key for the Gators. Stopping O’Quinn on offense and not allowing him to disrupt Florida on defense will help the Gators move on to the Sweet 16. So will running, running, and running some more.
This should be a better game than most expect. Enjoy it and cheer for another Florida Gators’ win.