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Florida, Kentucky Keep Marching On

The SEC’s two premiere programs are still carrying the league’s banner in the NCAA Tournament this week.  Kentucky — the SEC’s top program all-time — slipped by both Princeton and West Virginia last weekend to set up a Friday night duel with top-seed Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Florida — the league’s best program in the 2000s — snuffed out UC-Santa Barbara and UCLA to make it back to the regional semifinals.  The Gators will take on Jimmer Fredette and BYU on Thursday evening.

Last week, we presented our “good bets and bad bets” for the tourney and we’re still feeling pretty good about ‘em.  Our “bad bets” all disappeared after their first games — Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Our good bet — UK — faces a pretty tough road at this point.  To reach the Final Four, the Wildcats will have to upset an Ohio State team that has won its first two tourney games by 29 and 32 points.  Get past the Buckeyes and North Carolina will likely be waiting.  No offense, Cat fans, but it looks like Kentucky is about to exit the dance.

Our best bet — UF — still looks like an Elite Eight team at worst.  #3 seed BYU has looked good so far, but can the Cougars outrebound the Gators without dismissed starter Brandon Davies?  If not, and the Gators move on, UF will play the winner of Butler and Wisconsin for the right to reach Houston.  On Wednesday, we said that the #1 seed in Florida’s bracket — Pittsburgh — was “the least frightening of the tourney’s top seeds.”  Turns out they were indeed the first #1 to go.  Which means UF’s road to the Final Four is still shaping up as the easiest among #1 or #2 seeds.  If we had to put money on it, we’d take the Gators to reach Houston.

Here’s how the Sweet Sixteen field breaks down by conference:

ACC (3) — Duke, Florida State, North Carolina
Big East (2) — Marquette, UConn
Big Ten (2) — Ohio State, Wisconsin
MWC (2) — BYU, San Diego State
SEC (2) — Florida, Kentucky
Atlantic-10 (1) — Richmond
Big 12 (1) — Kansas
CAA (1) — VCU
Horizon League (1) — Butler
Pac-10 (1) — Arizona


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