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Home / Articles / Columnists / Sports Feature /  State Of The State Of College Hoops? Works In Progress
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Friday, March 1,2024

State Of The State Of College Hoops? Works In Progress

By Mark Tudino  
As the calendar flips to March – and Spring – a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy turns to – hoops?

Of course! And based on last year’s historic run by not one, but two, local college basketball teams, there is no reason not to approach the upcoming post-season competition with excitement. Well, OK, maybe some excitement mixed with caution. It’s just not realistic to expect both UM and FAU to make the Final Four (with this year’s version to be held in Phoenix at the home of the Arizona Cardinals). And while there may be a lack of super teams destined to make a deep run, there is more than enough depth in our state squads to make it very interesting for a number of teams.

Let’s start with last year’s Cinderellas: FAU and Miami. The ‘Canes currently sit at 15-11, 6-9 in conference. Coach Larrañaga’s squad is finding it hard to recapture last year’s magic, plagued by the twin I’s – injuries and inconsistent play, leaving them on a current four-game losing streak.

Still, the ACC ain’t what it used to be, and Miami could still make some noise in March, if it masters another moniker: the twin H’s of getting healthy and hot.

FAU is in a similar spot, but for different reasons. Coach Dusty May’s squad is a solid 20-6, 10-3 in conference, and a virtual shoo-in to make the Field of 64. But despite the efforts of leading scorer Johnell Davis and stud center Vladislav Goldin, the Owls find themselves looking up at another in-state rival – and no, it’s not Florida or FSU. It’s South Florida. Wait, what? That’s right, USF is a gaudy 19-5, 12-1 in conference. First year headman Amir Abdur-Rahim is in the running for national coach of the year, and his senior backcourt duo of Chris Youngblood and Selton Miguel will prove formidable for anyone who takes USF lightly. No USF team has danced since the 2011-2012 team, but this year’s version aims to break that streak. Like I said, buyer beware.

As for Florida and FSU, they are OK – but not great. Florida currently rides a three-game conference winning streak boosting their record to 18-7, 8-4 in conference. But they have been maddeningly inconsistent at times, prone to blowing big leads, and have a record of 2-6 vs. good teams the NCAA committee considers strong enough to warrant post-season consideration (aka Quad 1 wins, for the hoop heads out there). The Gators clearly have some work to do. As for FSU, they started slowly, losing their first three conference games before righting the ship and moving forward. Yet they now own a current three-game losing streak that stands them at 13-12, 7-7 in conference. Clearly, they are not tournament material – yet; but like their conference counterparts in Miami, they play in the weakened ACC, and could easily make a run that could land them in the Field of 64.

So buckle up, state of Florida hoop fans, as the best part of the season is about to play itself out. A wise man once said sports is considered the best unscripted drama we have going today – and we’re about to see the latest chapter unfold.

Let the Madness begin!


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