MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Getting to the Sweet 16 is a commonality for Florida these days with the Gators advancing to that round of the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the last nine seasons. As it turns out, head coach Billy Donovan also happens to be extremely successful in Sweet 16 play, boasting a 6-1 record with six-straight victories dating back to 2000. Donovan's sole Sweet 16 loss came the year prior in 1999 when Gonzaga scratched by with a 73-72 victory after Casey Calvary tipped the ball in with 4.4 seconds to play. UF has outscored its seven opponents by an average of 7.3 points per game in the Sweet 16.
Although he downgraded Florida's chances just two days earlier, advanced statistician Nate Silver now has the Gators listed as not just the favorite to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament but also the odds-on favorite to advance in each round of the South Region. According to Silver, Florida has a 71.6 chance to move on to its fourth-straight and 59.7 percent chance to reach the Final Four. From there, the Gators have a 35.5 percent chance to play in the national title game and 18.4 percent chance to win the whole thing. Florida at 34-2 has the nation's longest active winning streak at 28 games and will next play UCLA on Thursday at approximately 9:45 p.m. in Memphis, TN.
The 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational ended with a great moment as former Gators golfer Matt Every clinched his first-ever PGA Tour victory by picking up the win at Bay Hill. Every's third-round 66 pushed him back into contention, and he never lost the lead after gaining it on Sunday. He finished -13 for the tournament, edging Keegan Bradley by a single stroke on his way to the $1.12 million purse. Every also brought home 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters as a PGA Tour event winner. A native of Daytona Beach, FL, which is located just 100 miles away from Bay Hill (in Orlando, FL), Every was able to win the event in front of friends and family. He was a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC selection at UF.
Overall No. 1 they were not, but 11-seed Florida women's basketball still had an opportunity to compete in its NCAA Tournament and did so on Sunday after receiving their second berth in the last three seasons. UF pulled off an 83-69 upset over six-seed Dayton, outscoring the favorites 47-21 over the final 15:21 of the contest to work its way back from a 12-point deficit. All five Gators starters scored in double figures with redshirt sophomore guard Cassie Peoples leading the way with 21 points and six assists. Florida advanced to the second round of the event - also for the second time in the last three seasons - and will face three-seed Penn State on Tuesday night.
Right after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, defensive end Jeremy Mincey was signed by the Denver for their Super Bowl run with the team getting all they could out of the former Gators lineman in a reserve role. Now that he is off the team, which got run out of the building by the Seattle Seahawks in the Big Game, Mincey had no problem being critical about his former team. In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio last week, Mincey said Denver was "lackadaisical" in t heir approach to the game and that he had no doubt Seattle was more prepared entering the contest. Mincey inked a deal with the third team in his seven-year career this month, signing up for two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys for $3 million. He will be the first Florida player on Dallas's active roster, assuming he makes final cut, since running back Emmitt Smith in 2002.
Saturday was a tough one for No. 1 Gators women's gymnastics, which failed to win the SEC crown for the first time since 2011 with a 197.875-197.770 loss to Alabama. UA outscored UF in three of four disciplines, taking over the lead in the final event as it pulled off the victory. Though Florida as a whole was not successful on Saturday, two Gators gymnasts brought home individual league titles. Junior Kytra Hunter won the SEC title for floor exercise (9.95) and balance beam (9.925), and sophomore Bridget Sloan captured her second-straight all-around championship (39.70). Florida failed to win its third-straight SEC title but will regroup before it looks to defend the program's first-ever national title, which was won in dramatic fashion in 2013.