The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 31, 2014

Fearsome Final Foursome headed to North Texas

— Florida had not been to the Final Four since all those future first-round draft picks were in Gainesville. Wisconsin and coach Bo Ryan had never been.

Connecticut wasn't allowed to play in the NCAA tournament a year ago, and Kentucky supposedly had no shot at getting to North Texas after a midseason swoon.

Unlike the past few years, there will be no upstarts or Cinderella in the Final Four.

These are the big boys all right, but each one has a big chip on their shoulders.

"In down times, what you do is you bond together as brothers," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "And you hold that fist up."

Billy Donovan won a pair of national titles at Florida with Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford, all top-10 NBA picks in the 2007 NBA draft. After that second title, he accepted the head coaching job with the NBA's Orlando Magic, then changed his mind after the introductory news conference.

Donovan continued to produce winning teams in Gainesville, but the biggest wins eluded the Gators. They lost in the regional final each of the past three seasons.

That changed when the ferocious Gators (36-2) rode their chomping defense through a 30-game winning streak capped by Saturday's 62-52 win over bracket darling Dayton.

"We didn't start off the exact way that we should have, but coach Donovan continued to remind us and humble us and help us see that, in order to get where we want to get to, the end goal, we have to continue to chase greatness every single day and stay in the moment," Florida forward Patric Young said.

To win another title, the Gators will have to go through the last two teams to beat them this season (UConn and Wisconsin) or their biggest SEC rival (Kentucky).

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