Kentucky goes for its 32nd straight win today in its pursuit of the first unbeaten season in college basketball since Indiana did it in 1976. Standing in the way of the Wildcats are the Florida Gators, who have played Kentucky tough twice already only to come up short. On paper, this is a mismatch that Kentucky should win by 20, but of course, the Wildcats probably should have beaten the Gators by at least 20 the other two times they played.
Although it sounds a bit strange given Florida’s record of success the previous 16 seasons prior to this 16-16 disappointment, this is the classic David vs. Goliath. The Gators are truly little David in this one. Kentucky’s got three 7-footers and at least eight guys who could get drafted in the first round. The Gators have neither a 7-footer on the roster nor a first rounder. The closest thing the Gators have to an NBA player is Dorian Finney-Smith, who will probably hear his name called in the second round if, as expected, he leaves school for the league after this season.
The Gators are 6-9 in games decided by six or fewer points this year. Kentucky is unbeaten and has played only three games all season that were decided by six or fewer.
The Gators struggle to score. Kentucky only gives up 53.4 points per game.
Unless the Gators beat Kentucky and then win two more games in Nashville, their season will come to an end this weekend. No matter what happens in Nashville, Kentucky will be the #1 seed for the entire NCAA tournament.
So, on paper it’s a mismatch and the Gators will end the season 16-17 with no postseason play since 1996-97. But this is March and there is a reason they call it Madness.
The odds are totally stacked against the Gators and everything from talent to a crowd that will make Bridgestone Arena seem like Rupp II is in Kentucky’s favor. On paper, Florida doesn’t stand a chance.
The Gators might not stand a chance on the floor, either, but there is a reason why they play the games. Donkeys might fly first before the Gators upset Kentucky, but strange things happen in March on basketball courts where college basketball is played.
And, after all, this is Friday the 13th.
For the past four years, the myth was perpetrated that Will Muschamp inherited a bare cupboard from Urban Meyer but of the 58 players Meyer left behind when he called it a Florida career, 24 have played at least one year in the NFL and there are at least eight others who will likely get a shot. Muschamp is gone now, leaving behind a roster with a few holes in it. Let’s compare what Meyer left behind for Muschamp and what Muschamp left behind for Jim McElwain, who starts spring practice with the Gators on Monday.
Brantley had 13 starts and 19 career touchdown passes when Muschamp took over. Driskel started in 2012, started until he got hurt in 2013 and then started until benched midway through 2014. Murphy started a few games in 2013 then transferred to Boston College where he was the nation’s leading rusher among quarterbacks while leading the Eagles to a bowl game.
Mornhinweg was pressed into action in 2013 when Driskel and Murphy went down with injuries, starting the last three games. Harris started six games in 2014, throwing for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns while running for 338 and three more. Grier was a redshirt freshman.
Gillislee, who made All-SEC in 2012, and Demps are in the NFL. Rainey made first team All-SEC in 2011, spent two years in the NFL and will probably play in Canada this season. Brown was a starter in 2013 for Muschamp but rarely saw the field in 2014.
Taylor has 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns in two years as a part-time starter. Lane got the start in Florida’s bowl win over ECU and gained 109 yards.
Reed and Burton are in the NFL. Christian transferred to Louisville and is expected to go in rounds 6-7 of the NFL Draft. McFarland transferred out after the spring, became a second team All-American Conference tight end and is considered a marginal draft pick. Westbrook was a defensive end when Muschamp took over but moved to tight end where he made four career starts. Ajagbe began as a linebacker but played his last two seasons as a reserve fullback.
McGee caught 71 passes for 769 yards and 7 touchdowns at Virginia before transferring to Florida. He suffered a season-ending injury in game one last year and was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Goolsby played in seven games but didn’t catch a pass.
Thompson, Hammond and Patton are all in the NFL. Debose won’t get drafted but will be on someone’s NFL roster as a kick returner. Dunbar’s 40 time at the combine will probably get him drafted in the sixth or seven round. Story transferred to TCU where he is expected to start this year.
Robinson had 53 catches for 810 yards and seven touchdowns last year and has 58-833 for his career. Powell had 70 rushing yards for a touchdown and 15-147 and a touchdown catching the ball last year. Fulwood has 29 catches for 326 yards and two touchdowns in his career while Showers has 20-133 and two touchdowns and has run for 98 yards. Pittman caught 15 passes last year and has 19-188 in his career. Worton has two catches for 12 yards and Andrades has two catches for five yards.
Of the 12 left behind by Meyer, Nixon, Halapio and Harrison are all in the NFL. Patchan and Silberman transferred to Boston College where they both made second team All-ACC. Thurman started in 2014 and will start (if healthy) in 2015. The group of 12 combined (so far) to make 197 career starts.
Of the eight linemen left by McElwain, Thurman has 10 career starts, all last year. Johnson played in 12 games with three starts last year while Sharpe played in six games and both Riles and Dillard played in four. Dorsey, Harkless and Mike all took redshirts as freshmen last year.
Sturgis is kicking in the NFL after scoring 340 points at UF and hitting 70-88 field goals. Christy nearly won the Ray Guy in 2013 and finished his Florida career averaging 43.7 per punt.
Easley and Floyd became #1 draft choices. Howard is an NFL starter and Okine has been on NFL practice squads. Hunter started 31 games in his career. Trail transferred out and was a two-time Division IAA All-American at Norfolk State.
Bullard has 112 career tackles and 5.5 sacks. McCalister had six sacks last year and has 26 tackles for his career. Cox has 34 tackles and six sacks in his caeer while Brantley has 21 career tackles and Bostwick and Sherit have three each. Bryan, Clark, Holley and Reed all took redshirts as freshmen.
McCray, Powell, Bostic and Jenkins are all in the NFL. Taylor had 194 career tackles as a sometimes starter for Muschamp. Stewart transferred to UConn after one year and was an impact player as a fourth year junior last season. Ball had 16 starts in his career Kitchens was a reserve and special teams player.
Morrison made second team All-SEC last year when he had 101 tackles. He has 191 tackles in his career. Davis has 47 tackles in two years while Anzalone has 16, McMillian 13 and Powell 10. Rolin has been here two years but hasn’t played because of knee injuries.
Watkins is in the NFL. Riggs started at safety and nickel for Muschamp but transferred to Notre Dame where he started 11 games at corner. Purifoy was committed to the Gators before Muschamp arrived. He made an NFL roster but played mostly special teams.
Hargreaves is the best corner in the country with six interceptions and 24 pass breakups in two years. Poole has 16 career starts with 80 tackles, six interceptions and 13 pass breakups. Tabor had 31 tackles, one pick and eight pass breakups as a true freshman. Wilson had two starts, 22 tackles and an interception as a freshman. Jackson took a redshirt as a freshman.
Evans and Elam are NFL starters. Elam was a #1 draft pick of the Ravens. Shaw transferred to Southern Cal. Saunders transferred to Tennessee State where he was a Division IAA All-American in 2014.
Maye has 11 starts in his career with 78 tackles, two picks and five pass breakups. Neal has eight career starts with 50 tackles, three interceptions and four pass breakups. Dawson had 14 tackles and a pick as a true freshman last year. Washington and Harris played mostly special teams last year.
3. Illinois: The Illini have lost five of their last seven.
4. Miami: A lot of unimpressive wins on the resume. Canes needed a win over Notre Dame to get in.
5. Old Dominion: ODU had to either win Conference USA or at least get to the championship game of the tournament. Losing to Middle Tennessee ended any hope of the big dance.
These Division I basketball coaches are no longer gainfully employed. Expect another 8-10 openings in the next 10 days.
1. Jerome Allen, Penn
2. David Carter, Nevada
3. Dale Layer, Liberty
4. Murry Bartow, East Tennessee State
5. Gib Arnold, Hawaii
6. Chuck Driesell, The Citadel
7. Howard Moore, Illinois-Chicago
8. Milan Brown, Holy Cross
“As a parent, there’s not a coach in the country I’d want my son to play for than Anthony Grant.” – Billy Donovan, when asked what he thinks of Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant.
When you look at the players left behind by Will Muschamp, do you think there are 24 players who will someday see an NFL uniform for even one year?
Peter Frampton’s reputation was forged on two album releases – “Frampton Comes Alive” which was released in 1976 and “I’m in You” which was a 1977 studio album. Both those albums went platinum but there were only three top ten hits in his entire career. “Do You Feel Like We Do” was originally released in 1973 on an album entitled “Frampton’s Camel” which was a total dud. Performed live on the “Frampton Comes Alive” album, it became a signature song for Frampton, who was considered a far better live act than he was in the studio.