Coming into the NCAA tournament, the Gators were the chic pick as an early round upset victim but after two blowout victories to get them to the Sweet 16, Florida seems to finally playing up to their untapped potential.
Despite building confidence thanks to a decent performance in the SEC Tournament and the superb outings in the first two rounds, the Gators aren't going to simply waltz their way back to the Final Four.
First, Florida must handle the tough Marquette Golden Eagles. They finished 2nd in the Big East while putting together an impressive 27-7 record (14-4 in conference). Their performance was good enough to garner the 3 seed in the West Region. Marquette also hasn't really been tested in the tournament, walking easily past BYU and Murray State.
Statistically speaking, the teams are pretty even with Florida having a slight edge in shooting percentage and from the three point arc.
If the Gators do manage to escape the Golden Eagles, they'll play the winner of Michigan State and Louisville.
The Spartans are the top seed in the West bracket, going 29-7 and winning the Big Ten Championship. Led by Senior Forward Draymond Green and Sophomore guard Keith Appling, the Spartans bring a tough defense to crack. MSU has surrendered over 70 pts just 3 times all season.
If MSU falls to Louisville, the Gators get no respite. The Cardinal won the Big East Tournament and despite not having the most overpowering offense in the world have won games with solid defense. Senior Kyle Kuric and Guard Russ Smith are the only two players reaching double figures for the Cardinal.
One thing the Gators have on these opponents is balance. Florida has five starters in double figures for the season and aren't tied to one player having to have a good night.
If Florida can shoot the three well like they did against Norfolk State, they have a good chance to win the West Region and get back to the National Semi-Finals.