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2011 NCAA Tournament: Florida, Kentucky Advance to Different Fates

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Florida and Kentucky are both Sweet 16 teams, but their draws are about as different as you can find.
Florida and Kentucky are both Sweet 16 teams, but their draws are about as different as you can find.

The weekend open thread is here.

Yesterday Florida and Kentucky earned hard-fought victories over UCLA and West Virginia, respectively. They both get the honor of saying they're Sweet 16 teams, which does matter. It's not as good as an Elite 8 or Final Four appearance, but it is the sort of thing that gets quoted on a coach's resume. Making it past the first weekend, after all, is something only a quarter of the tournament teams in any given year can say.

Where they go from here is where their paths diverge considerably.

2-seed Florida now finds itself as the top seeded team left in its region after Butler knocked off Pittsburgh in dramatic fashion. It faces 3-seed BYU in a rematch of last year's first round game for both teams, but while Florida has improved greatly since then, this year's 3-seeded BYU minus Brandon Davies is not that much different from the 7-seeded Cougars of last year. Also left is 4-seed Wisconsin, which, while generally a very efficient team, proved itself capable of losing a game with a 36-33 final score.

Meanwhile, barring some Butler-like magic from George Mason, Kentucky will face what is by most measures the best team in the country in Ohio State. Facing a 1-seed is usually the reward for 4-seeds who get past the first weekend.

Florida's greatest fortune may have been getting put in the same region as the perennially underachieving (in March) Panthers, but still, its 2-seed was a gift. Kentucky also got slighted a bit when it received a 4-seed, as it probably should have been a 3-seed as well. A lot of the focus of controversy on Selection Sunday was about the inclusion of UAB and VCU along with some concern over Florida's 2-seed. Kentucky's spot, which if the committee went completely by the S-curve makes UK the worst of the 4-seeds, didn't get quite as much play. We can see now better than ever that it should have.

Florida is playing a 3-seed whose rights to the seeding largely are owed to a team that doesn't exist anymore. Kentucky almost certainly will be facing the nation's top team. For two teams that aren't that far apart from each other, that's a remarkable difference. It's one more piece of evidence that this year's bracket wasn't the finest job by the Selection Committee.