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On This Date in Sports April 2, 2007: Double Gators

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Florida becomes the first team to win two straight NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments since Duke won two straight in 1991 and 1992. The Gators, ranked number one most of the season, beat Ohio State 84-75 in the Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. In the title game, Al Horford led the way for Bill Donovan’s Gators, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds as Corey Brewer was named Most Outstanding Player.

The Florida Gators were a solid team for several years under Billy Donovan, losing the 2000 Championship Game to Michigan State. In 2006 they were a solid team that surprised most experts, working their way to the Final Four, where they would upset UCLA 73-57 in Indianapolis with a team full of Sophomores. In an era when one-and-done players were among the top players in the NCAA, the core group of the Gators led by Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Horford announced they would return to defend their National Championship.

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The Florida Gators lost two games early in the season and three games late, posting a 26-5 record in the regular season. However, come March, the Gators appeared to be refocused as they won the SEC Tournament and went into the NCAA Tournament at 30-5 with the number one seed in the Midwest Regional. The Gators' road to Atlanta began with an easy 112-69 win over Jackson State in New Orleans before fighting off a challenge from #9 Purdue with a 74-67 win. In the Sweet 16 in St. Louis, the Gators beat #5 Butler 65-57 before winning the Midwest Region with an 85-77 victory over #3 Oregon.

Ohio State, coached by Thad Motta, was the opposite of Florida as they banked their hopes on Freshman Greg Oden, who was projected to be the top pick in the NBA Draft. The Buckeyes got off to a sluggish start in the NCAA Tournament as the number one seed in the South. Playing in the Lexington, after beating #16 Central Connecticut State 78-57, Ohio State needed overtime to top #9 Xavier 78-71. In the Regional Semifinals in San Antonio, the Buckeyes held off a late surge to beat #5 Tennessee 85-84, thanks to a big block from Greg Oden at the buzzer. They would beat #2 Memphis 92-76 to reach the Final Four.

While Florida and Ohio State reached the Final Four as #1 seeds, UCLA and Georgetown reached Atlanta as number two seeds. The chalk ruled the 2007 NCAA Tournament, as the top two seeds reached the Elite Eight in three of the four regions, with #3 Oregon being the lone exception as #2 Wisconsin failed to reach the Sweet 16 in the Midwest Region.

Ohio State would take on Georgetown in the first semifinal. Despite Greg Oden dealing with foul trouble most of the game, the Buckeyes' size and strength proved to be too much for the Hoyas as they won the game 67-60 to reach the NCAA Championship Game for the first time since 1962. The second semifinal would be a rematch of the 2006 Championship Game, with Florida getting the best of UCLA, with a 76-66 win, as Lee Humphrey blew the game open with three straight three-pointers in the second half.

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Once again, it was Florida against Ohio State for the National Championship. Three months earlier on the gridiron, the Gators upset the Buckeyes to win the BCS National Championship in Football. The Gators were the first Division 1 team to be champions simultaneously in football and basketball. In the first half, Florida came out strong to continue their winning ways, outscoring the Buckeyes 40-29. In the second half, Ohio State would play better as Greg Oden had a monster game with 25 points and 12 boards. However, every time they would get close, Florida would put together a run and stretch the lead back to ten points. The Gators would win the game, basking in their one shining moment for a second straight year with an 84-75. Corey Brewer was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while Al Horford led the way in the title game with 18 points and 12 boards. In the Final Four, Lee Humphrey set an NCAA record with 47 careers three-pointers, breaking the record of 42 held by Bobby Hurley.