Gators, Seminoles, look to take advantage of Orlando games in NCAA tournament

2017 NCAA Tournament Preview

ORLANDO- Fans of the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles rarely agree on anything.  If one fan group said the sky was blue (Gators), the others might say it was garnet (Noles).

However, over the next few days, both have one common goal ... utilize a near "home-court" advantage of playing their first two games of the NCAA tournament in Orlando.

The Seminoles are the Np. 3 seed in the West Regional and will take on another Florida team, the Atlantic Sun Conference Champion Florida Gulf Coast Thursday night at about 9:40 p.m. The game will be televised on TNT.

This is the Seminoles first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years.

"To get back to the tournament is a big deal," FSU Center Michael Ojo told

"For me, this will be my first time. Our senior class, this will be our first time going to the tournament. We’ve had some lapses the past four years or so. Getting back means a lot for us as a senior class … It’s a big deal for our program.”

FSU's path to the Final Four could include a former ACC rival (Maryland) and two western powers (Gonzaga and Arizona).  Two wins in Orlando would put the Noles in San Jose, California for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.

As for the Gators, their last trip to the NCAA tournament in 2014 also started in Orlando. That trip ended with a Final Four appearance before losing to eventual national champion, Connecticut.

The Gators are the No. 4 seed in the East Regional and will take on Southern Conference champion East Tennessee State. The game will tip-off around 3:10 p.m. and be televised on TruTV.

"Our guys have withstood a long, grueling season, with only playing a few games at home because of our unique circumstances, and they've handled it well," Gators coach Mike White said.

"They're very deserving of this. We're really excited to play in front of Gator fans in Orlando, but more importantly we have to get back to playing well."

Florida's path to the Final Four could include Virginia in the next round, defending National Champion Villanova in the Sweet 16, and Duke in the Elite Eight. The Blue Devils beat Florida back in December 84-74 at Madison Square Garden, which also happens to be home of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups.


© 2017 WTLV-TV


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