KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket.
Yet of the four schools descending on the Sprint Center this week, the No. 2 seed Gators (29-1) without question have the shortest resume of them all.
That says a lot about their competition. Start with No. 3 seed Stanford (30-3), which is back in the Final Four for its NCAA-best 21st appearance and seeking its eighth national title. Then go to top seed Penn State (33-1), playing in its 13th semifinal and going for an eighth title. And throw in No. 5 seed Nebraska (30-4), which merely has four national titles.
"We’ve been so close," said Florida coach Mary Wise, whose team had been to three region finals before rallying to beat the Trojans last weekend and return to the Final Four for the first time since losing the 2003 title match. "It’s an opportunity, and you want to take full advantage, no regrets."
If nothing else, UF should be used to the Pac-12 after beating UCLA and USC to reach its semifinal tonight against the Cardinal.
Basketball: ’Nova the 1
Jalen Brunson had 22 of his career-high 31 points in No. 1 Villanova’s dominating first half and Omari Spellman scored 27 to help lead the Wildcats (11-0) to an 87-67 rout of host Temple in Philadelphia. … Tyler Davis had a double double before halftime as No. 9 Texas A&M (9-1) put seven players in double figures in rolling over visiting Savannah State 113-66. Davis finished with 17 rebounds and 14 points.
WOMEN: Teaira McCowan scored a career-high 35 and had 19 rebounds to help No. 5 Mississippi State (10-0) win at home over No. 9 Oregon (8-2) 90-79. … Kristy Wallace scored 20 to lead No. 6 Baylor (9-1) over visiting McNeese State 95-34.
Football: A Georgia freshman faces a felony forgery charge of passing a counterfeit $100 bill last summer, the third player to be arrested since the Bulldogs won the SEC and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Defensive back Latavious Brini was taken into custody Tuesday by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. Starting inside linebacker Natrez Patrick and receiver Jayson Stanley were arrested hours after the Dec. 2 SEC title game in Atlanta. Patrick was charged with possession of marijuana, which could lead to his dismissal since he has been arrested twice previously. Stanley, who was charged with DUI drugs, possession of marijuana and speeding, faces a two-game suspension. … Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz is suing over an article that claimed he called immigrants "deadbeats" at last year’s Republican National Convention. The federal lawsuit filed in Orlando, where Holtz lives, claims an article published by The Daily Beast news website on July 19, 2016, defamed Holtz. He’s seeking damages of more than $75,000. The article originally had the headline "Lou Holtz at RNC Said Immigrants are Deadbeats Invading the US." The suit claims the website took Holtz’s comments out of context and he never used the term "deadbeats." After complaints, the website updated its headline to "Holtz Goes on Immigrant-Bashing RNC Rant."