GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- No. 12 Florida gets to stay close to home for the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Gators (26-7) are the No. 2 seed in the Southeast region and will face 15th-seeded UC-Santa Barbara (18-13) in the first round Thursday in Tampa.
Florida won the Southeastern Conference's regular-season title, but lost to No. 15 Kentucky 70-54 in the final of the league tournament Sunday.
Nonetheless, the NCAA selection committee clearly gave more weight to Florida's resume than its two losses to the Wildcats. But in a strange twist, the Wildcats were seeded fourth in the East region and also will play in Tampa.