Posted March 27, 2014 12:50 am - Updated March 27, 2014 12:54 am

Following Gator basketball, every step of the way

Maria and Wayne Wiles have been with the Florida Gators basketball team on every stop in the post-season.

MEMPHIS, TENN. | Being a booster of a college basketball and college football team has one big difference.

Football in the post-season involves two weeks of travel at the most, a conference championship and a bowl game.

Basketball's post-season, if a team goes all the way to the Final Four, can involve traveling to four sites in four weeks -- the conference tournament, and three stops in the NCAA Tournament.

"You go on the road, get home, do the laundry and go right back out again," said Maria Wiles of Fort Myers. "Your friends wonder where you've been."

Maria Wiles and her husband Wayne are in Memphis this week for the Gators' game against UCLA on Thursday at the FedEx Forum. If UF wins, they will play again on Saturday.

Win that game, and Florida will be in Dallas next week for the Final Four.

The Wiles will be with them -- as they were in the national championship seasons of 2006 and 2007.

"There's a lot in common between this team and those teams," Wayne Wiles said. "The main thing is that they all played like a team."

It's not such much the expense, although that can pile up with hotel rooms at NCAA Tournamen venues for fans running $200 per night and more. The Wiles purchase seats on the team charter when they can, but also fly commercial.

Because no one knows if the team will advance to the next site unless they win at the previous site, there's not much of a window for planning.

But confidence is high.

"We made all the arrangements to be here, before they won two in Orlando, and we already have our reservations for Dallas," said Wayne Wiles as he and his wife were enjoying some coffee at the Peabody Hotel. "We don't think it's a question of if they'll win."

Wayne and Maria Wiles have followed the team long enough and traveled on the team charter often enough to get to know the players. They have a soft spot for the four seniors, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather.

Don't ask them who their favorite player is.

"You might as well ask a mother who her favorite child is," said Maria Wiles.

When pressed, they did praise Young, a Jacksonville resident, for his basketball skills and his priorities in other areas of life.

"Patric knows there are things more important than basketball," Wayne Wiles said.