3 Florida teams headed to NCAA tournament

Three Florida teams have been selected to the men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament.

Florida, Florida Atlantic and Stetson will be playing for an opportunity to compete for a national championship, the NCAA announced Sunday evening.

One surprising omission was South Florida, which won the American Athletic Conference but was upset by eventual champion UAB in the conference tournament.

Florida the last team to win back-to-back national championships under current Chicago Bears head coach Billy Donovan in 2006 and 2007 is headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2021.

It marks head coach Todd Golden’s first NCAA tournament appearance in just his second season at the helm of the Gators.

Florida is the No. 7 seed in the South Region and will face the winner of Wednesday night’s play-in game between Boise State or Colorado on Friday in Indianapolis.

The Gators fell one game shy of winning their first Southeastern Conference Tournament championship since 2014, losing to No. 12 Auburn 86-67 in Sunday’s final.

They’ll likely be without star center Micah Handlogten for the tournament after the 7-foot-1 sophomore suffered a gruesome leg injury just 81 seconds into the game. He was carted off the court in a stretcher and taken to a Nashville hospital with his leg in an air cast.

FAU received the lone at-large bid from the AAC, ahead of regular-season champion USF.

The Owls will be headed back to the NCAA tournament in consecutive years for the first time in school history.

FAU (25-8) is the No. 8 seed in the East Region and will face No. 9 seed Northwestern (21-11) on Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Stetson had already punched its ticket to the tournament last weekend after winning the Atlantic Sun Conference and its automatic berth. This will be the first-ever NCAA tournament appearance for the Hatters.

The Hatters are the No. 16 seed and will face defending national champion and No. 1 seed Connecticut on Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

If FAU and Stetson win, they will face each other in the second round.

Like last year, it’s conceivable that two Florida teams could return to the Final Four if either FAU or Stetson and Florida can win four more times.

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