In something of a bounce-back year for the program, the Florida Gators are a player on the national scene and in the NCAA Tournament comfortably once again. They have a steady starting five, a go-to senior in Chandler Parsons and the kind of guard play necessary to succeed in March. Plus, Billy Donovan, the SEC Coach of the Year, is a coach who has been there and done that. He won't let his team get rattled under March pressure. And with two national titles under his belt, his players have plenty of reason to trust him.
Record: 26-7 (13-3)
Key wins: Jan. 11, at UF; Florida 81, Tennessee 75. In their first road conference game of the season, the Gators won an overtime thriller in Knoxville. Though the Volunteers finished toward the bottom of the SEC East, Tennessee is a quality team, and winning in front of nearly 20,000 partisans is never easy. The nail-biting 70-68 home win Feb. 2 against Kentucky was also a highlight.
Key losses: Dec. 20, At UF; Jacksonville 71, Florida 68. Yes, it was still early in the season, and yes, it was a non-conference game, and yes, it was in overtime, but a home loss to Jacksonville stands out among six total losses. The conference loss at home to South Carolina (Jan. 15) hurt a little, too.
Players to watch: Parsons, the SEC Player of the Year, is a do-everything dynamo for the Gators. Though he only averaged 11.4 points per game, the six-foot-ten senior led the team in the regular season with 104 assists and he was also the top rebounder with 7.8 per game. Also, keep an eye on Vernon Macklin. The Georgetown transfer knows his role and doesn't try to do too much. His 11.5 points per game have come on a 57 percent shooting percentage from the field. Sadly for the Gators, Macklin's percentage from the floor is quite a bit better than his numbers on the free throw line, where is hitting just better 45 percent.
Need a printable NCAA bracket to fill out for the tournament? Download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.