The Florida Gators (23-10 overall, 10-6 in Southeastern Conference play) earned a No. 7 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, drawing a second-round matchup on Friday against the No. 10 Virginia Cavaliers (22-9, 9-7 in Atlantic Coast Conference play) in the West region.
Florida will travel to Omaha, Neb., for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, taking on a Virginia team that finished fourth in the ACC in the regular season.
With a win against the Cavaliers, the Gators would play their third-round game on Sunday against the winner of No. 2 Missouri and No. 15 Norfolk State.
Billy Donovan has now led Florida to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and the 12th time in his 16-year career with the Gators.
“It’s always an honor to be part of the NCAA Tournament, and we’re excited about playing,” Donovan said. “We know we have a great challenge ahead of us in Virginia and look forward to competing on this stage.”
Senior point guard Erving Walker won’t be happy with Florida’s draw. Following the team’s loss to Kentucky on Friday in the SEC Tournament semifinals, Walker said he wanted to play close to Gainesville.
“I would much rather stay close,” he said. “I don’t like the long plane ride, but wherever we end up, that’s where we’ve got to be.”
Other Florida players said they aren’t bothered by traveling long distances. Junior power forward Erik Murphy said he didn’t think the team faced any particular disadvantage by traveling to Oklahoma City in his freshman year as opposed to playing in Tampa last season.
“I don’t really know what the sites are, honestly,” Murphy said. “I don’t think it matters come this time of year. You’ve got to go win, you’ve got to produce.”
The Gators have lost four of their last five games, and they’ll be going up against a Cavaliers team that has lost three of its last four.
Florida would play in Phoenix if it is able to advance past the second and third round in Omaha.
The rest of the West region is as follows.
No. 1 Michigan State (27-7)
No. 16 Long Island University-Brooklyn (25-8)
No. 8 Memphis (26-8)
No. 9 St. Louis (25-7)
No. 5 New Mexico (27-6)
No. 12 Long Beach State (25-8)
No. 4 Louisville (26-9)
No. 13 Davidson (25-7)
No. 6 Murray State (30-1)
No. 11 Colorado State (20-11)
No. 3 Marquette (25-7)
No. 14 BYU (25-8) / Iona (25-7)
No. 7 Florida (23-10)
No. 10 Virginia (22-9)
No. 2 Missouri (30-4)
No. 15 Norfolk State (25-9)