The Florida Gators begin their run at the Final Four on Friday night against the Northwestern State Demons at the Frank Erwin Special Events Arena in Austin, Texas. For the Gators, it will be a chance to prove they are one of the nation's elite teams.
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It's been a challenge to figure out UF for much of the season. Ranked as the best team by Kenpom, Florida, which enters as a No. 3 seed, has the talent, experience and depth to cut the nets down in three weeks. However, the Gators have collapsed in the final minutes of multiple games this season, with an embarrassing loss to Ole Miss in the SEC Championship Game fresh in their minds. If the Gators can close out games in the second half, they're a very tough team to beat.
Florida is very balanced offensively, as their starting lineup all average between nine and 13 points a game. Senior forward Erik Murphy, who is a matchup nightmare as a stretch four, leads the team with an average of 12.6 points. As a team, UF shoots nearly 39 percent from behind the arc. Defensively, big man Patric Young protects the paint with his size and athleticism.
No. 14 seeded Northwestern State made the field of 68 by winning the Southland Conference Tournament last week. They are the nation's top-scoring team at 81 points per game, though they did play one of the weaker schedules of anyone in the country. Like Florida, Northwestern St. is balanced offensively, having four players averaging double-digits in scoring.
Start Time, TV Schedule: 7:27 p.m. ET, TruTV
Location: Frank Erwin Special Events Center in Austin, Texas