Hot Gators Getting Attention

The Florida Gators have won 10 straight games including their first three SEC games. As a result the voting public is starting to take notice. The Gators have checked into the AP Poll this week at No. 24. The Gators are the only SEC team that received a ranking, although Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas all received votes.

Meanwhile, Florida finished just two spots out of the top 25 in this week's USA Today Coaches Basketball Poll. No SEC teams were ranked in that poll and only Kentucky and Arkansas received any votes.

As you might expect, Florida soach Billy Donovan is not all that concerned about whether or not his team is rated. He said he's beyond that issue.

"When I say I'm beyond it, it's a great thing," Donovan said. "I'm happy, it's terrific, it's great, but in terms of impacting me I would hope for some of these guys that would be the expectation to be ranked. When you talk about Duke, North Carolina, UCLA and programs like that I don't think they're ever talking about just being ranked. That's what's supposed to happen.

"What kind of an impact of affect will it have on them? I would say that they should expect that and it should have no bearing on how we perform, prepare, practice and what we do."

I can't argue with him there. The Gators were ranked in the preseason and stayed in both major polls through the first four weeks of the season. Florida dropped out after its loss at Florida State and this week's ranking is the first since then. It really shouldn't be a big deal for the guys, but you're always happy to be ranked. What Florida needs to constantly be reminded of is the fact that they were 18-3 after 21 games a year ago and went 3-8 over the next 11 games. That slide cost the Gators an NCAA bid, and must be avoided this year if Florida is going to be part of March Madness.


If you read this space regularly you know I prefer the power rankings to any of the RPI type things that are out there. I think it does the best job of analyzing all the factors and ranking teams accordingly. If so, then the Gators still have a lot of work to do. Here is how teams of interest in and out of the SEC fare in the analysis through games of January 18:

Kentucky 19
Tennessee 36
Florida 37
LSU 54
South Carolina 60
Vanderbilt 62

Washington 20
Syracuse 29
Florida State 63
N.C. State 97
UCF 107
Bradley 125

Florida's three SEC wins are over teams in the bottom half of the league. Auburn (73) ranks eighth, Arkansas (92) is ninth and Ole Miss (113) is 11th, just one spot better than last place Georgia (170).

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