University of Florida

Florida Gators miss postseason for first time in 18 years

For the first time in 18 years, Florida will watch the postseason from home.

A year after earning the No.1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and losing in the Final Four semifinals, Selection Sunday came and went without the Gators receiving a bid to the National Invitation Tournament, ending a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.

UF sputtered to a 16-17 record this season, snapping a five-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 consecutive postseason trips.

Florida failed to reach the NCAA or NIT for the first time since coach Billy Donovan’s inaugural season of 1996-97 in Gainesville.

Without last season’s quartet of seniors, the Gators struggled to forge an identity, blowing multiple close contests (just 2-6 in games decided by two points or less) and winning just two true road games (2-9).

They finished below .500 for the first time since 1997-98 (14-15) and also had a 16-year streak of 20-win seasons snapped.

Still, the Gators held out hope they would become the first team in NIT history (77 years) to make the tournament with a losing record.

Florida has an RPI of 70 but also has the nation’s sixth-toughest schedule.

But its spotty résumé simply wasn’t enough.

The Gators declined an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational, with Donavan telling reporters after Friday’s loss to No.1 Kentucky in the SEC tournament: “Clearly, I think with our administration they’ve talked about what would happen in relation to the NIT, do we get selected, do we not get selected, and that’s the only [tournament] I have talked to them about.”

Related stories from Miami Herald