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Florida Basketball

The Big Dance: Florida Seed Watch

March 5, 2020
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Florida opened the season as the preseason No. 6 team in the nation, with projections to earn a first overall seed in this month’s NCAA Championship Tournament. That came in part because of a wealth of talent to bolster its core of sophomores.

What happened has been a season that has earned results that fall far short of preseason expectations. 

Now, after sweeping the series against Georgia, the Gators, (19-11, 11-6 SEC) are once again in prime position to control their own destiny as the season comes to an end.

In ESPN’s Bracketology, which was last updated March 2, Florida was projected to earn a No. 9 seed in the West, where they would be positioned to play No. 8 seed Texas Tech. But earning a ninth seed would not be in the team’s best interest as it would immediately face a No. 1 seed, which currently projects to be Gonzaga.

With last night’s win Florida is now tied for second in the SEC standings with LSU and Auburn. More importantly, it pushed Florida out of the bubble, as a loss would have been devastating to the team’s argument for a fourth-straight tournament berth. Florida’s resume currently features a 3-8 record against Quadrant 1 programs. However, the Gators’ Quadrant 2 record is much more satisfying, coming in at 6-3. UF is undefeated against Quadrant 3 and 4 teams.

Additionally, KenPom has the team ranked 32nd in the country, well above the other two teams its tied with in the conference standings.

According to teamrankings.com, Florida has a 100 percent chance at making the tournament, with a 19 percent chance at receiving an auto bid. 

With LSU playing Georgia and Auburn playing Tennessee this weekend, a win against the Wildcats would give Florida the argument for a higher seeding entering the conference tournament, including the possibility of a double-bye.

Teamrankings.com projects Florida to beat No. 6 Kentucky this weekend, which explains the team’s chances at an auto bid later this month. Additionally, Auburn and LSU, are projected to have a 15 and 14 percent chance at receiving an auto bid. 

On the other hand, bracketmatrix.com estimated Florida to receive a No. 9 seed, with Auburn and LSU receiving No. 4 and No. 5 seeds respectively. 

That’s where the situation gets precarious, Florida will once again have to rely on luck and coach Mike White out-coaching coach John Calipari if it is to get itself out of the seed nightmare. Dropping to tenth in the tournament would be the best-case scenario for UF, even though rising to the fourth seed with a statement win on Senior Day is still within the realm of possibilities. 

Currently, Florida is 29th in the NCAA’s NET Rankings. 

The Gators’ strongest argument, and the reason why teamrankings.com has them projected to earn an auto-bid over both Tigers teams, is the strength of schedule. Florida is currently ranked 28th, compared to LSU’s 41st- and Auburn’s 51st-ranked schedule, according to the website. 

With 34 teams automatically qualifying, a strong performance in the conference tournament will secure White’s fourth straight trip to the Big Dance. Leaving the team’s fate to at-large bids, though the resume could make the argument for a lower seeding, would test the patience of the team and fans alike. 

In spite of the season’s mixed results, White and his team have been able to maintain the argument that the team has a fighting chance at playing through the end of the month.

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The Big Dance: Florida Seed Watch

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