Florida entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed in the South Region, the No. 1 overall seed, the No. 1 team in the country and the favorite to win a national title.
And in their opener against No. 16 seed Albany, they looked anything but the part.
The Great Danes led until late in the first half, tied the game up at 39 with less than 15 minutes left and were not out of contention until the final minutes, losing 67-55, despite the fact that their two leading scorers combined for just nine points on 2-for-18 shooting.
Safe to say, Billy Donovan was not happy with the performance.
“To be honest with you, I’m a little bit baffled with our team right now. I really am,” he said during the postgame interview.
What was wrong?
Frankly, it looked like the Gators expected to walk into the gym and have Albany roll over and play dead, and the Great Danes weren’t about to quit with their season on the line. They routinely beat Florida’s press and got easy shots out of it. They routinely beat the Gators down the floor. Florida is bigger, more athletic and more talented, which is why they won. Not because they played like they wanted it more.
I expect that to change on Saturday, when Florida will take on No. 9 seed Pitt, who knocked off No. 8 Colorado in impressive fashion in the South Region opener. It seems like every year, there are one or two No. 1 seeds that get a scare simply because they assume playing a No. 16 seed is a bye.
And, at the end of the day, a win is all that matters in the NCAA tournament.
Florida got that.