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Early Thoughts: Florida Gators, National Champs

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Least competitive Final Four in my lifetime. The three games were decided 14, 15, and 16 points. I really thought this one would be a low scoring, defensive, and close game. I was wrong.

Florida owned this game from the beginning led by the dynamic inside duo of Joakim Noah and Al Horford. How many dunks did Florida have? 12? 15? Noah finished just shy of triple double: 16 points, eight rebounds, and six blocks. Noah intimidated the Bruins' big men and completely dominated the paint. Horford contributed 14 points and seven rebounds. If their inside strength wasn't enough, they dominated the perimeter as well. Point guard Taurean Green was solid with eight turnovers to just one turnover. Even though he scored only two points, he controlled the game. There is nothing more you can ask for from your point guard. Add Lee Humphrey's four three pointers and 15 points to Corey Brewer's 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals (not to mention stifling defense) and you have a blowout victory. This game was never in doubt. Florida controlled the both ends of the floor for the full 40 minutes.

Congratulations to the Florida Gators, Swamp Ball, and Billy Donovan. They were solid on offense and on defense and dominated the tournament like no other team over the last three weeks. They were clearly the best team in the tournament. Their defense was solid. They forced turnovers and turned them into easy fast break points. They lived in the paint, and they shot an extremely high percentage from the floor. Noah was clearly the best player in the NCAA tournament and deserves the MOP award. Horford may have played his way into an NBA lottery pick if he chooses to declare following this season. And they got balanced scoring in every game. I guess it is possible to win a national championship in basketball at a traditionally powerful football school. By the way, this was Donovan's 12th year at Florida. Rick Barnes just completed his 8th at Texas.

Also, congratulations to UCLA and Bruins Nation. The Bruins were outstanding on the defensive end in every game but this one. The Bruins also completed one of the most incredible comebacks of all time with their Sweet 16 victory over Gonzaga. UCLA won the Pac 10 regular season and Pac 10 tournament titles. Jordan Farmer and Arron Afflalo are as good as any backcourt in the country. Ben Howland is a fantastic coach who took a storied program back to the Final Four in three short years. Great season for the Bruins.

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--AW--