First there were three and then there were two and now there are none.
Hopes for at least one of three Florida college basketball teams that made it into the Sweet 16 going on to the NCAA championship game were dashed in quick fashion within four days.
First, the University of Miami, cruising at high altitude in an amazing season, lost badly to Marquette 71-61 on March 28 in Washington, D.C.
The Cinderella season of Florida Gulf Coast University came crashing down on Friday in a 62-50 loss to interstate rival the University of Florida in Arlington, Texas.
Marquette, which was led in 2003 by Dywane Wade, went on to lose to Syracuse 55-39. And UF was overwhelmed by Michigan 79-59.
After the dust cleared from the Elite 8 games, the Final Four scenario is set. Top overall seed Louisville will face Wichita State on Saturday and Michigan will take on Syracuse. The championship game will be played April 8.
The Miami-Marquette game wasn’t hard to decipher. Marquette could shoot; Miami couldn’t. The Hurricanes (29-7) had sentiment on their side, returning to the arena where coach Jim Larranaga led mid-major George Mason to the Final Four seven years ago. But Miami made only 35 percent of their field goals and missed 18 of 26 3-pointers.
“You ever have days where you’re just out of sync or things just don’t run along smoothly?” Larranaga said. “Almost like our trip over here. Our hotel is a mile and a half, it took us 45 minutes to get here. We had to go on nine different streets, weaving our way in and out of traffic and everything. And that’s the way it seemed on the court.
“We were trying to find our way and never could. Never could get in rhythm offensively and defensively. I don’t think we communicated like we have been doing all season long.”
Shane Larkin scored 14 points to lead the No. 2 seed Hurricanes, whose NCAA run to the round of 16 matched the best in school history.
“I think what we did this year was lay a foundation of what the program could be like,” Larranaga said. “We’re not anywhere near where I would like to be.”
The Hurricanes couldn’t sink anything. They started 2 for 12, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range, and Larkin’s 3-pointer more than 11 minutes into the game was the first Hurricanes field goal scored by anyone other than Kenny Kadji.
The Hurricanes played without backup center Reggie Johnson, who had surgery March 26 for a minor knee injury. Johnson was averaging seven rebounds but he would have helped only if he could’ve put the ball in the basket.
“There are only two things you have to do in basketball: one, put the ball in the basket, two, stop the other team from putting the ball in the basket.
“We weren’t able to do either,” Larranaga said.
This story was supplemented by staff reports.