With Florida advancing to the Sweet 16, the Gators have now sneaked past Kentucky for the most NCAA Tournament wins by an SEC basketball team over the past decade. The Gators have 20. The Cats own 19.
Of course, a dozen of Florida’s tournament wins came in back-to-back years, when the Gators of Joakim Noah-Al Horford-Corey Brewer, etc. captured successive titles in 2006 and 2007, the first school to do so since Duke in 1991 and 1992.
Forced to rebuild, the Gators then missed out on making the tournament the next two years (2007 and 2008) before making a return in 2009. Billy Donovan’s club has reached the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons only to be stopped there. Butler beat Florida in 2011. Louisville halted the Gators’ run last season.
After wins over Northwestern State and Minnesota — costing Tubby Smith his job — the Gators play Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16 at approximately 10 p.m. Friday on TBS.
Thirteen of Kentucky’s 19 NCAA wins in the past decade have come in the John Calipari era. The Cats reached the Elite Eight in 2010 and the Final Four in 2011, and they won it all last season before missing out on the tournament this time around.
Besides Florida and UK, no other SEC team has double-digit NCAA wins in the past decade.
Tennessee ranks third with eight victories. Those all came in the Bruce Pearl era. Under the former Vols coach, now an ESPN commentator, Tennessee reached the Sweet 16 in 2007 and 2008. Pearl nearly pushed the Vols through to the Final Four in 2010, when UT fell to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. He was fired after the 2011 season for lying to the NCAA. Tennessee has been on the outside of the Big Dance since.
Four of LSU’s five wins came in 2006, when John Brady’s team reached the Final Four before losing to UCLA. LSU’s other win came under Trent Johnson in 2009 before the Tigers were beaten in the second round by eventual champ North Carolina.
Vanderbilt is 5-6 in NCAA play over the past decade. The Commodores reached the Sweet 16 in both 2004 and 2007, losing a controversial heartbreaker to Georgetown in 2007. The Hoyas went to the Final Four that year, and they lost to Ohio State.
Alabama is 4-4 in the past decade, with three of those wins coming in 2004, when Mark Gottfried’s team made an impressive Elite Eight run before losing 87-71 to eventual national champ Connecticut.
Mississippi State is 3-4 over the past decade, with all those wins coming under former coach Rick Stansbury. The Bulldogs were a No. 2 seed in 2004, but they lost to Xavier in the second round.
Arkansas is 1-3 and has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008. The glory days of Nolan Richardson are long gone.
Ole Miss earned its first appearance and its first NCAA win of the decade, beating Wisconsin in the first round last week before losing a tough one to La Salle 76-74 on Sunday night.
Georgia has made two NCAA appearances — one under Dennis Felton; one under Jim Harrick — in the past 10 years, falling in the first round both times. South Carolina was a first-round knockout in 2004 under Dave Odom. Auburn has not been to the tournament in the past 10 years.
I didn’t include newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri. The latter reached this year’s tournament before being bounced by Colorado State at Rupp Arena in its opener.