GAINESVILLE -- Florida -- the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament -- finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history, collecting several additional awards in the process.
The Gators (32-2) have never opened the tournament as the nation's No. 1 ranked team, but they will do so Thursday (4 p.m., TBS) when they take on the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between Mount St. Mary's (16-16) and Albany (18-14).
"We got a number one seed. Now that the seeding is set, the only thing that matters is playing well and putting yourself in a position to win and advance,” coach Billy Donovan said Monday.
“We’re excited to be in the tournament. We’re excited for another opportunity to play but the number one seed, the overall seed, whatever it is, it’s great. But that’s a reflection of what’s happened from November all the way to here in March. Once the brackets are out and you’re playing, seedings and things like that, players aren’t thinking about that. They’re thinking about playing and competing and playing to the best of their ability.”
Meanwhile, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Donovan was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second straight season, the AP announced Monday.
"I’m sure maybe when we lose, I get maybe too much blame and when we win I probably get maybe too much praise," Donovan said.
"But the thing that I’ve always looked at is whether or not I get credit, what kind of impact I have made in those guys’ lives?"
Donovan led the Gators to the greatest season in SEC history, capping a 21-0 run through league play with a dramatic tournament title over rival Kentucky.
Wilbekin, who was named the MVP of the SEC Tournament after averaging 13.3 points, 3.0 assists and 3.3 steals over three games, was a unanimous All-SEC first-team selection and was joined by Gators forward Casey Prather.
Senior center Patric Young was an All-SEC second-team honoree.
Last week, SEC coaches named Wilbekin the player of the year and Donovan the league's coach of the year.
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