Mar 19, 2012, 6:29 PM EDT
When the Florida Gators won their first title in 2006 they advanced through the tournament largely because of a dream bracket. To reach the elite-8 they played a 14-seed, an 11-seed and a 7-seed. Then they beat top seeded Villanova in the regional final and were on their way to the Final Four. Once there? They opened with another 11-seed.
Fast forward 6 years and the Gators began with an injury riddled 10-seed, and followed that with a 15-seed. So their advancement to the Sweet-16 was gift wrapped, again. Only now the competition is about to get a whole lot stiffer.
With only 16 teams remaining it’s possible for anyone to win (okay, maybe not Ohio). So how good are the Gators’ chances?
This team isn’t as talented as the back-to-back Champions from 2006 and 2007, but what team is? Billy Donovan had a front line comprised of three top-10 NBA picks. This team is different. Yes, there’s Patric Young in the middle, but the tallest player on the team – Erik Murphy – takes over half his shots from beyond the arc. But either way the offense works. The 2006 Gators had the 2nd best offense in the nation, and the 2012 Gators have the 3rd best.
Though they’re scoring points in a different way.
The 2006 team attempted about 35% of their shots from beyond the arc, which was slightly above the NCAA average. This team attempts 45% of their shots from beyond the arc, which is the 5th most in the nation.
Is that a problem?
Looking back over the past decade not a single team which relied so heavily on the three has made the Final Four. Not one. The closest was the 2005 Louisville team, which attempted the 15th most in the country.
3-pointers are a fickle beast. And trying to run off 4-straight games when your offense depends on them can be tough. Is it impossible? We don’t know. It just hasn’t been done in the past decade.
Next up? Marquette. In their past 6 games the Golden Eagles have only allowed one opponent to make more than 28% from beyond the arc. If Florida survives that, they get the winner of Michigan State vs Louisville.
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