After two seasons of the NIT, the Florida Gators have broken their slump and earn the ten seed in the West bracket. The Gators (21-12) will face seven seed BYU Cougars (29-5) on Thursday in Oklahoma City.
It is clear that Florida got in by the strength of their out of conference schedule. In contrast, Virginia Tech and Mississippi State were left at home. Miss State was 0.1 away from winning the SEC and an automatic bid.
BYU was ranked 14 in the most recent AP poll and finished 13-3 in the Mountain West. They won 9 of their last 12 games. They are a very high scoring team, averaging 83ppg. The Cougars' leading scorer is guard Jimmer Fredette with 21.7ppg. Three others are in double figures. The Cougars can claim that they should have been seeded higher than seven, however, BYU had a strength of schedule of 116. Florida's was 33. With RPI often criticized for the weight it places on certain things, the Committee went to the concrete SOS number.
As for tournament history, BYU has made the NCAA the last three seasons, but was bounced in the first round each time. (Sounds like early 2000s Florida.) Florida might have snuck in (as I write this, Va Tech's Seth Greenberg is complaining about being at home with a 113 SOS), but this gift now needs to be taken advantage of. If Florida doesn't get their asses in gear now, nothing will help.
However, I am very excited to see what Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton do in NCAA play. Also, take a look at the heights of the Cougars. Their two big guys are not contributors, and their top four scorers are all under 6-foot-6. Florida is at their best playing smaller teams. As a Gator fan, you have to hope Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus can nut up and play like true big men inside.