GAINESVILLE, Fla. - If Florida and Ohio State meet again this season, it won't be in the NCAA tournament.
The Gators and Buckeyes, finalists in last year's national championship game, missed getting back into the tournament Sunday.
This is the first time the two finalists from the previous year have not made the tournament since 1980 when Michigan State and Indiana State did not qualify. Magic Johnson led Michigan State to 75-64 championship game win over Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979.
Two-time defending national champion Florida (21-11) lost eight of its final 11 games, including the last four, and was clearly out of the NCAA tournament picture before the brackets were announced.
The Gators had their streak of consecutive NCAA tournament berths snapped at nine, and became the first defending champ to miss the tournament since 1989 was Kansas was ineligible because it was placed on probation.
Ohio State (19-13) had a much better shot, having snapped a four-game losing streak with wins against Purdue and Michigan State to close out the regular season. But the Buckeyes lost their first game in the Big Ten tournament, falling 67-60 to the Spartans.
The Gators and Buckeyes were expected to be high seeds in the NIT, which was to release its pairings at 9 p.m. Sunday.
The two teams were No. 1 seeds in last year's NCAA tournament, and lived up to the lofty expectations by making the title game.
Florida won that meeting 84-75 in Atlanta, becoming the first school since 1992 to win consecutive national championships.
But both squads were devastated by the NBA draft two months later. Florida coach Billy Donovan had three players - Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah - selected in the top nine picks.
Taurean Green and Chris Richard were second-round picks, and sharp-shooting guard Lee Humphrey graduated.
Ohio State's Greg Oden was taken with the top pick, and Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook also went in the first round.
Those personnel losses were so drastic that Donovan, who briefly took a job with the NBA's Orlando Magic before changing his mind and returning to Gainesville, and OSU coach Thad Matta shared a laugh before the season about how little experience they had coming back.
"The reality is we're in a tremendous rebuilding process, and this is why I came back to take on this type of challenge," Donovan said Thursday after Florida lost to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference tournament. "That's a challenge I wanted to take on. But it's not getting resolved next year. This is going to be a process.