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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Last time I checked, Goliath didn't have home-turf advantage against David.

New York Giants receiver David Tyree didn't make one of the best plays in Super Bowl history with New England snow flurries falling on him.

Former Valparaiso guard Bryce Drew didn't make a game-winning 3-pointer against Mississippi with a stadium full of fans booing him.

Having any single-game in a championship event on neutral court is ideal.

It's fair. It's right. It's common sense.

That's why women's college basketball has it so, so wrong.

It wouldn't have mattered if UF had played Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., Gainesville, Tallahassee or Djibouti. The Gators would have lost.

Did the NCAA really have to gift wrap the Huskies a Final Four berth? A team that goes undefeated doesn't need anymore help. That is, however, just the way the women's tournament works. And the sad part is, it's not just with Connecticut.

How would you feel if you were a No. 8 seed - technically the home team - and you had to go play in the No. 9 seed's home court in the first round. That's just what happened to eighth-seeded Middle Tennessee State when it traveled to East Lansing, Mich., to play Michigan State. The Spartans downed the Blue Raiders by 1 point, 60-59, with their home crowd behind them all the way. Call it a hunch, but you'd think home court gives you more than 1 point.

It gets worse. No. 6-seed Arizona State got to travel to Duluth, Ga. Their opponent was No. 11-seed Georgia, and Athens is about 50 miles from Duluth. Then there was 10th-seeded San Diego state playing Depaul - in San Diego. Even No. 6 seed LSU got a home game in the first two rounds.

Then there was No. 12-seed Gonzaga getting to play in nearby Seattle against fifth-seeded Xavier, and the Bulldogs won. Perhaps the worst part was watching as No. 2 Auburn had to play No. 7 Rutgers in its home gym and seeing the Scarlet Knights wreck them.

I understand the selection committee wants fans at the game, and the average person won't pay to go see women's college basketball. You don't, however, sacrifice the sanctity of the game to get fans there. That's what this is doing.

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It's very debatable if the Gators are one of the 16 best teams in the country, but they don't deserve to be given a slap in the face by the selection committee, which is exactly what they did by giving them a second-round matchup against Connecticut - on the Huskies' home court.

If UConn loses at any point in this tournament, it'll be a historic upset. It doesn't matter where the game is played. There's no reason to make their likely road to a championship as smooth as a Porsche riding down I-10 with no traffic.

The Gators aren't good enough to beat a powerhouse this year. It's just too bad they didn't have a fair chance to prove it. In the NCAA Tournament, a fair chance should be a given.

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