Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gators' slim NCAA hopes stay alive

Phew! Hurdle number one has been overcome. Two more wins, and I think the Gators squeak into the tourney!

By beating the Kentucky Wildcats in the O'Dome today, the Gators' faint hopes for getting into the NCAA Tournament are still alive. After losing 3 straight to LSU, Tennessee and a horrible loss at Mississippi State, the Gators finally came through today in a must-win game.

However, I hope the NCAA Selection Committee just sees the box score and didn't actually watch the game, because it was a sloppy, offensively stagnant game played by two teams that were desperate for a win--and desperate for any semblance of an offense to show up.

Neither team looked like they belonged in the Big Dance, with double-digit turnovers and poor shooting by both teams. Regardless, the Gators had timely 3-point shooting, and a win is a win. Kind of nice to send Billy Gillespie to the NIT this year--as he did to the Gators last year.

The win by the Gators assures them of a first round game in the SEC Tournament on Thursday against Arkansas--a team that the Gators beat handily by fifteen points earlier in the season. If Florida can beat Arkansas again, they will play Auburn on Friday--a team that the Gators also beat earlier in the season by three points on the road.

Win those two games, and Florida should squeak into the dance with an at-large bid. Of course, it would be nice if they could win the SEC tournament, but at this point I'll settle for just having their name called on Selection Sunday.

I wrote an article earlier in the season forecasting that the Gators would be in this nail-biting situation due to their lack of size inside, and they've made me look somewhat prophetic. I still don't think the Gators will go far in the brackets even if they sneak in (and I think next year is the BIG year for Florida!), but getting into the NCAA tourney and losing early is still better than going to the Final Four of the NIT.

Just two more wins Gators... two more!

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