It was a long road for the Florida basketball program before they became nationally relevant. It took over 60 years from when the basketball program started until the Gators finally made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1987. The Gators went to the Big Dance again in the mid-90s, but the program reached new heights when they hired Billy Donovan in 1996. Donovan led the Gators to nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 1998-2007, a program best which included four Final Four appearances and two national championships. Overall, the Gators have made over 18 NCAA Tournaments, more than four Final Fours and multiple championships.
The stretch under Donovan since the start of the 1998 season has been tough to duplicate by many basketball programs. The Gators have reached four Final Fours under Donovan’s watch which included back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. Donovan led the Gators to another impressive run starting in 2011 as the Gators reached the Elite Eight in four consecutive seasons with a Final Four appearance in 2014. Donovan has coached many players who have moved on to the NBA and had success including Mike Miller, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Horford.
Florida’s most impressive championship run came in the 2006-2007 season as they were defending their first national title. On that team defending their title was Noah, Brewer, and Horford who were all drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft later that summer. The Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 behind a double double from Horford.
Florida Gators Recent NCAA Tourament History
In 2014, Florida entered the NCAA Tournament as the number one seed after winning the SEC Tournament and riding a 26-game win streak. The Gators eased their way to the Final Four to square off against the Connecticut Huskies and a 30-game win streak on the line. Unfortunately, Florida struggled most of the game and lost to the eventual national champion 63-53 for only their third loss of the season.