GAINESVILLE, Fla. – March Madness in the Sunshine State has long meant little to most people in Florida.
Sure, the Florida Gators have been an NCAA tournament staple during coach Billy Donovan's tenure, which includes back-to-back national championships (2006-07).
Everywhere else in the football-frenzied state, though, the closest fans usually get to college basketball's biggest stage is taking part in office pools and watching bracket-busting games on television.
Oh, have things changed this week.
With second-seeded Miami, third-seeded Florida and darling Florida Gulf Coast advancing in the NCAA tournament, basketball has taken center stage all across the peninsula. Throw in the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak, six shy of tying the NBA record set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, and hoops is the hottest thing going in Florida.