HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid
MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: A couple of hungry teams are matched in a first-round game at Oklahoma City. Florida hasn't been back to the tournament since winning the 2006 and 2007 titles. BYU is looking for its first NCAA win since 1993. The Gators aren't exactly into the tourney on a roll, having lost four of their last five games. Both teams look to get production out of their guards with Florida's Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combining for about 26 points a game and BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery going for 35. Florida's perimeter defense, which allowed opponents to shoot 32 percent on 3-pointers, will be tested by the Cougars, who shot 42 percent on 3-pointers as a team.
GO-TO GUYS: Sophomore G Erving Walker and freshman G Kenny Boynton carried the bulk of the scoring load for most of the season, but junior F Chandler Parsons, who hit game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointers against North Carolina State and South Carolina, came on strong in February. He averaged 17.7 points a game over one seven-game stretch with a high of 29. He shot better than 50 percent in the regular season. Boynton averaged 13.5 points a game, Walker 12.6 for the regular season. Parsons, junior F Alex Tyus, and sophomore F/C Vernon Macklin also averaged in double figures.
THEY'LL KEEP WINNING IF: Boynton and Walker get their shooting eyes back. Boynton was only 2-of-11 from 3-point range in the last two games of the regular season, and Walker was 4-of-17 on treys over his last three outings. The Gators lost all three. Parsons also scored just 12 points in his last two games after reaching double figures in the previous seven. Macklin became more of a factor on the boards down the stretch, averaging 7.1 rebounds over the last seven games, two more a game than what he averaged through his first 24 appearances.
STRENGTHS: The Gators have a well-balanced attack with five players averaging in double figures, and senior F Dan Werner and sophomore G/F Ray Shipman have provided punch off the bench. Macklin gives the Gators inside muscle. The Gators shot better than 70 percent from the free-throw line for the season with Walker and Boynton, who are the likely ball handlers in the closing minutes of close games, shooting 80.3 and 74.7 percent, respectively. Donovan obviously knows what it takes to have success in the NCAA after winning national titles in 2006 and 2007.
WEAKNESSES: The Gators don't shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter (30.7 percent on 3-pointers for the regular season and 32.5 percent in 16 SEC games), and SEC foes shot 44.8 percent against them (36.3 percent on 3s) in the regular season. In the last four games of the regular season, opponents shot 47.3 percent from 3-point range against the Gators. Walker went into the SEC tournament in a shooting slump, having shot only 18.2 percent from the field in the last three games of the regular season, all losses.