Time for Scoreboard Watching

With 21 games in the bank and 10 more regular season contests to go, the Florida Gators still control their own destiny as far as NCAA at large selection is concerned. I believe Florida has to get to 21 wins to have a shot at getting an invitation to the Big Dance and any/all wins above that number should enhance those chances and possible seeding as well.

However, Florida also has to be realistic about its post-season hopes, and thus while Florida partisans definitely need to back their guys; Gator Nation also has a rooting interest in the successful (and failure of particular teams).

First, let's look at the SEC and the top teams in contention for the NCAA Tournament this season. Each team's ranking is an average of the InsideRPI daily posted by ESPN and kenpom.com. The average of those two is an effective way of looking at the teams because InsideRPI emphasizes strength of schedule while ken.pom.com analyzes quality of performance.

There appear to be three locks for the SEC with Kentucky (#8), Vanderbilt (#19) and Tennessee (#23) setting the pace. Three of Florida's losses have come to those SEC heavyweights.

Then you have three SEC teams that are very clearly on the bubble. The Gators (#50) are in that trio along with Ole Miss (#43) and Mississippi State (#51). The Gators play the Bulldogs at home this Saturday and that game obviously takes on much greater significance. Two Saturdays later the Gators will face another key game against the Rebels on Oxford.

Most projections have the SEC getting five teams into the field this year and if that's the case someone has to be the odd man out. For that reason, Gator fans need to hope that Ole Miss and/or Mississippi State hit a little tailspin and pick up some ugly losses.

Florida also has a vested interest in the success of the three best non-conference teams they beat. Michigan State, Florida State and N.C. State can all help Florida's resume' with strong finishes. It helps a little that Richmond continues to play well, but the Gators' one disastrous loss, at home to South Alabama is going to look ugly to the selection committee no matter how the Jaguars finish up.

So whether your scream at the O'Dome or scream at the TV set when the Gators and other teams are in action keep this in mind. Any time you hear a commentator talk about a team "on the bubble"; chances are it's a team you want to lose.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at a number of storied programs that are having difficult seasons and may also end up on the outside looking in at this year's big dance.

Fightin Gators Top Stories