With the loss at Kentucky, Florida has no shot at making the NCAA Tournament -- at least as an at-large team (and there's no way they win the SEC Tournament title).
Sure, you could argue that the dynasty ended when Horford, Noah, Brewer, Green, Humphrey and Richard all left after the back-to-back championships...
Sure, you could argue that no team since Kansas in 1989 (who lost the incomparable one-man champ Danny Manning) lost more from a title team -- that this ending was always possible (even probable)...
Sure, you could argue that Florida's 12-game NCAA Tournament winning streak is still alive until the next year the team actually makes the tournament field...
Sure, you could argue that an NIT championship could still qualify as a third straight postseason championship... (I'm kidding...)
It doesn't make it any less tough to take.
That said, you can't argue that any fan would rather win two NCAA championships in a row (hell, even one) and spend the next season in the NIT than not win a championship at all. But still...
Lots of readers think I'm a bandwagon Florida fan because they think I started rooting for them when the championships started.
Actually, my first season as a die-hard was 2001-02 (Mrs. Quickie is an even bigger hoops fan than football fan), and it was a pretty rough ride in the NCAA Tournament between that 2002 Tournament and the breakthrough in 2006.
But this is the first season I have rooted for Florida where they haven't even made the Tournament, let alone been ousted early (let alone won a championship). It sucks.
It sucks to be on the wrong side of the bubble, but it sucks worse to watch a team that -- by any Tournament resume line except "legacy" -- never played like they deserved serious consideration.
And I take little solace in the fact that even if they did make the field of 65, I had no unbiased reason not to pick them to lose in the first round (just as surely has I had no unbiased reason not to pick them to win a second straight title a year ago).
Unfortunately, Florida fans saw this outcome coming throughout the season, uneven efforts borne from rampant inexperience and near-complete turnover from a year ago. Doesn't make it easier.
But again, I'd rather win a title (or two) and be out of the Tournament the next year than make the Final Four a few years in a row without winning a championship.
That's why this month, finally, it's great... to be... a
I'm sure the rest of the country will celebrate Florida's NCAA Tournament ouster... before the damn thing even starts! I can only retort with this lament: Enjoy it now...
With this year of experience under their belts, the entire roster returning (if Marreese Speights doesn't turn pro) and a recruiting class featuring two 7-footers, Florida's future looks very good.
All Gators fans can hope for is that this year's team uses this season's disappointment as the core of next season's motivation -- to keep that unbeaten NCAA Tournament streak alive.