The Florida men’s basketball team missed the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, but unlike last year, the Gators will at least participate in the postseason.
After officially awaiting their fate on Selection Sunday, the Gators (19-14, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) earned a No. 2 seed in the NIT.
Florida will play at No. 7 seed North Florida on Tuesday (9 p.m., ESPNU).
Despite touting the higher seed, the Gators must travel to Jacksonville due to ongoing renovations at the O’Connell Center.
The Ospreys (22-11, 10-4 Atlantic Sun) are 0-4 all-time against Florida, last losing 77-69 in the 2013 season-opener.
“This Florida team [has] really good guards, Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza and one of the best stretch-four’s in the country in Dorian Finney-Smith,” ESPNU analyst Dino Gaudio said during the NIT bracket telecast.
“The country is going to get to see a freshman guard, KeVaughn Allen, one of the top freshman in the country you might not have heard of.”
Florida first-year coach Mike White will make his fourth-straight trip to the NIT. He coached Louisiana Tech to the NIT the three previous years before joining UF.
But for much of the season the Gators appeared bookmarked for the NCAA Tournament.
Florida finished 55th in RPI and No. 5 in strength of schedule, with notable wins over West Virginia and Saint Joseph’s.
However, a late-season swoon (2-5 to end the year) and a poor record against ranked foes (just 1-7) put the Gators on the wrong side of the bubble. And their 72-66 loss to Texas A&M in the SEC tournament quarterfinals on Friday sealed their tournament fate.
Florida is one of four SEC teams in the NIT field, joining top-seed South Carolina, No. 3 seed Georgia and No. 5 seed Alabama.