Florida Gators are on the rise
Billy Donovan's team is his best since the unit that won back-to-back titles
On April 2, 2007, Billy Donovan and his Florida Gators cut down the nets at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 and celebrated their second consecutive national championship. A team led by Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer was able to bring back-to-back titles to Gainesville. It was and remains the most impressive feat recorded by any program in the still-young 21st century. The Gators were at the pinnacle of success.
In the almost four years that have passed since that night in Atlanta, however, Florida has gone just 0-1 in the NCAA tournament. Building on the success of those national championship teams has proved to be a tough task.
Until now. The Gators are 21-5 overall and 10-2 in the SEC heading into Thursday night's game against the Georgia Bulldogs in Gainesville. In the latest bracket projection by ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi, Donovan's team is shown as a 3-seed. Florida is now so far removed from those national championships that it's no longer a matter of building on previous success. The Gators are creating their own buzz. Here's how:
To read the full take on how the Florida Gators have emerged as one of the SEC's top teams and learn about the areas in which they might be vulnerable in March, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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John Gasaway has written for Basketball Prospectus since its inception in 2007. His college hoops commentary appears weekly on ESPN Insider. John's writing has also appeared at SportsIllustrated.com, as well as in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Playboy.