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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Florida earns a 10-seed, will face UCF in NCAA Tournament

The Gators tipoff their second-round matchup in Storrs, Connecticut.

<p>Florida&#x27;s Kiara Smith during a game against Alabama on Feb. 18, 2021. Smith will not compete with the team in the NCAA Tournament due to a season-ending injury.</p>

Florida's Kiara Smith during a game against Alabama on Feb. 18, 2021. Smith will not compete with the team in the NCAA Tournament due to a season-ending injury.

In other Gator basketball news, at least one of UF’s basketball teams will be dancing this March. 

No. 10-seed Florida women’s basketball (21-10) will tango with No. 7-seed Central Florida (25-3) at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on the University of Connecticut’s campus in Storrs. A part of the tournament’s Bridgeport regional, this will be the 26th meeting between the two schools. 

The American Conference Champion Golden Knights are a familiar in-state foe of UF’s. The Gators are undefeated in an all-time series dating back to 1979. 

Head coach Kelly Rae Finley’s interim tag was removed Feb. 28 prior to the team’s trip to Nashville, Tennessee, for the SEC Tournament. The Gators fell to NCAA Tournament 7-seed Mississippi in the quarterfinals.

Injury uncertainty swirls around Florida as it heads into March Madness. Finley’s team saw two starters go down in the conference tournament: graduate guard Kiki Smith to a left knee injury in its second-round win over Vanderbilt and sophomore forward Jordyn Merritt to a hard fall in the quarterfinal loss to Ole Miss.

Smith announced March 4 via Twitter that she would miss the remainder of the season. Merritt’s status for the NCAA Tournament remains unknown. 

UF is capping off a memorable year, enjoying its best campaign since 2015-16, the same year the Gators last made the NCAA Tournament. Florida has knocked off five ranked opponents this year and reached its highest ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll since 2009 at No. 15 in the poll’s Feb. 21 edition. 

If Florida and 2-seed Connecticut (25-5) both win their first games, the Gators and Huskies could square off for the third time ever and for a berth in the Sweet Sixteen. 

Contact Caleb Wiegandt at cwiegandt@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CalebWiegandt.

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