Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast will all benefit from a friendly crowd early in the NCAA Tournament, with both schools playing first and second round games in Orlando at Amway Center.
First-round games tip off Thursday, with second-round games set to be played on Saturday.
Florida (24-8, 14-4 SEC) is making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013-14, when the Billy Donovan-led Gators made it all the way to the national semifinals. It is UF’s first bid the first under SEC Coach of the Year Mike White.
The Gators will take on No. 13-seed East Tennessee State (27-7, 14-4 Southern) in the East Regional. The Buccaneers are making their 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament but the first since 2009-10.
It is the fifth meeting between the two programs and the first since 1980-81.
The winner will take on the winner of No. 5 Virginia (22-10, 11-7 ACC) versus No. 12 seed UNC-Wilmington (29-5, 15-3 CAA). It is the first meeting between the two programs.
The Cavaliers are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament for the first time since 1981-84 and their 21st overall tournament berth.
Third-seeded Florida State (25-8, 12-6 ACC) is making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2011-12. FSU finished the regular season second in the ACC before being eliminated in the conference tournament semifinals by Notre Dame.
The Seminoles will take on No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast (26-7, 12-2 A-Sun). The Eagles are making their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The winner will take on the winner of No. 6 Maryland and No. 11 Xavier.
Miami is the fourth team from Florida to make the field. The Hurricanes are a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region and will face Michigan State on Friday in Tulsa, Okla.
Maryland (24-8, 12-6 Big Ten) finished the season second in the Big Ten. The Terrapins are making their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 27th overall. Xavier (21-13, 9-9 Big East) earned its 11th NCAA Tournament berth in the last 12 years.
Defending champion Villanova was given the tournament’s top overall seed. The defending champions were joined by Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga on the “1” line — a quartet that produced very little in the way of head scratching.
With the brackets set, the action begins Tuesday and Wednesday with opening-round games that will include matchups between the last at-large teams invited into the draw: No. 11 seeds Providence vs. USC and Kansas State vs. Wake Forest.
The tournament gets into full swing Thursday, with the Final Four set for April 1 and 3 in Phoenix. Villanova, which won the title last year on a buzzer-beating jump shot by Kris Jenkins, will open its quest for back-to-back titles against the winner of an opening-round game between New Orleans and Mount Saint Mary’s.
“I want the guys to enjoy it tonight, and then tomorrow, we’re just one of 68 teams,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Though Kansas was the overall second seed, it opened as the favorite in Las Vegas, at 8-1. North Carolina and Villanova were next at 9-1, followed by Gonzaga, Duke and Kentucky at 10-1.
Overall, the bracket produced more small quibbles than true blockbusters. Teams that didn’t make it off the bubble included Syracuse and Illinois State.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
Florida teams in NCAAs
Florida State: No. 3 seed in West Region; faces Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday in Orlando
Florida: No. 4 seed in East Region; faces East Tennessee State on Thursday in Orlando
Miami: No. 8 seed in Midwest Region; faces Michigan State on Friday in Tulsa, Okla.
Florida Gulf Coast: No. 14 seed in West Region; faces Florida State on Thursday in Orlando