Here’s where Lunardi has the Gators in the field in his early bracketology


The 2021-22 season will be one with major implications for Florida basketball. Though it seems coach Mike White, who was just extended through the 2026-27 season, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, UF is coming off back-to-back seasons where the team underachieved based on its talent.

And now, the team is going to look a lot different. Six players from last year’s squad are gone, and the Gators will rely on a roster that was patched together this offseason through the transfer portal. It’s a talented group, but this will be the least continuity White has had from one team to the next during his career in Gainesville.

In spite of these changes, it seems ESPN’s Joe Lunardi expects Florida to return to the NCAA Tournament, though as a lower seed than it was last season. In his early bracketology, he has UF as the No. 8 seed in the West Region, drawing Indiana in the First Round and, potentially, No. 1-overall seed Gonzaga in the second.

It seems Lunardi expects the SEC to continue its strong run from a year ago, as he predicts that six other league teams will crack the field: No. 3 Alabama (the favorite to win the SEC, in Lunardi’s eyes), No. 4 Arkansas, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 6 Auburn and No. 10 LSU, who is among the Last Four Byes.

The SEC is quickly becoming one of the better conferences in college basketball with a wealth of talented, up-and-coming coaches, and securing a tournament bid from the league is as competitive as ever. UF has a lot of work ahead of it this season if it wants to keep its streak of four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances alive.

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