By Edgar Thompson | Orlando Sentinel
11:24 AM EDT, April 9, 2013
The confetti had not been swept off the floor of the Georgia Dome following last night's national championship game before some people were looking ahead at what team could keep Louisville from repeating next season.
The defending SEC regular-season champion Florida Gators are not too far behind, checking in at No. 6 in USAT and CBS, and No. 7 in ESPN.com's top 25.
Louisville, 82-76 winners over Michigan on Monday night, ranked from No. 2 to No. 4 in the three polls, while Michigan was No. 5, 24 and unranked, respectively, in the three polls.
Meanwhile, the Gators finished No. 9 in the final USA Today/Coaches Poll for this past season after losing 79-59 to Michigan in the Elite Eight. At No. 11, Marquette was the other Elite Eight team to fall out of the final eight. Sweet 16 victims Duke (No. 5) and Kansas (No. 8) finished ahead of Florida.
Next season in Gainesville, the return of center Patric Young and the addition of 6-foot-10 Damontre Harris, a transfer from South Carolina, 6-foot-10 Chris Walker, a McDonald's All-American, give the Gators a stronger presence under the basket next season.
The stellar postseason play of reserve forwards Will Yeguete and Casey Prather - both seniors next season - also bodes well for Florida's rebounding and overall defense.
But Florida also must replace its top three scorers - Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton.
Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin should be rock solid. Highly touted freshman McDonald's All-American Kasey Hill and rising sophomore Michael Frazier should be key contributors in the Gators' backcourt.
Meanwhile, many people think 6-foot-8 Dorian Finney-Smith, a transfer from Virginia Tech, will become Florida's best player.
Until the season begins, polls mean little, especially ones more than six months prior to the the Oct. 15 opening of practices. Either way, it is clear another run at the Final Four is expected from the Gators.
Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel