|Here come the Gators!|
(photo courtesy of Sharon P. Mancia)
With "Selection Sunday" three weeks away, top schools in the nation are hoping they can become a #1 seed. The benefits are obvious, as in any sport: it's the easiest road to the championship. One of those schools, whom I believe has a good chance at becoming a #1 seed are the Florida Gators. With a bad loss on their resume to the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Gators would need to blow them out of the waters to show that loss was a fluke. What better way to welcome the Razorbacks to the murky, swampy waters of Florida.? Thankfully, for the Gators, they did indeed avenged their double-digit loss, by death-rolling the Razorbacks down and putting a 17-point bite into their backs.
"I'm not Coach Donovan. He says it's not a revenge (game), but I wanted to get them back. Everyone on that team wanted to get them back because the way they acted after they beat us was a little ridiculous," said PF/C Patric Young. "But, you know, I guess that's what happens when someone beats the Florida Gators. When we get wins, it's not that much publicized, but when we lose everyone wants to know about it. We just really wanted to get that win tonight."
You might remember coach Billy Donovan: the guy who had signed a contract with the Orlando Magic, and then quickly changed his mind and cried his way out of the contract to go back to coaching college. Yeah that guy! I guess coaching the NBA wasn't for him, but he definitely knows the college game as his 8th-ranked Gators are on the move and sitting two games in front of Alabama in the SEC.
The Gators are 22-4 and 12-2 in their division, with four games to play and one, huge matchup against the Alabama Crison Tide on March 2nd. The Gators are in good position to finish at the top of the SEC. I believe if they win out the rest of the season and win out their conference tournament, the Gators are going to be a #1 seed for March Madness and with a team that ranks high in points, field goal percentage and assist, the Gators can make noise when the madness starts.
Led by junior Pactric Young, the Gators are a good inside-outside team. They have players who can move around in the paint and when they're in trouble they kick it out to someone around the three-point line. They have a team that that shoots 39% from beyond the arc. Young, however, brings the low-post game. He is quick, he is strong and he brings defense, along with his athleticism. He averages almost two blocks a game and has a total of 44 blocks so far on the season. He leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game and he is fourth in scoring, averaging 10.3 points per game.
"It's not like Patric's not getting the ball. You know what? As big and as strong as he is, there's no reason why he shouldn't demand the ball every single time when he gets down inside," Donovan said. "Now, are there times our guys miss him? Yes. Is there times he should get the ball and he doesn't get it? Yes. But there's also -- like tonight, my daughter could have thrown the ball inside to him tonight. He was open. He made himself available and he wanted it and he had a presence."
When selection sunday arrives, the Gators will have the committee's attention. The SEC may not be a powerhouse conference in college basketball (only Florida ranks in the top 30 in RPI--Ed), but if you take a look at their resume they have some quality wins. They beat Wisconsin by 18, Marquette by 33, Mizzou by 31, Kentucky by 17, and in-state rival, Florida St. by 25. I would even look at the loss to then #8th ranked Arizona as a good, hard-fought loss: they lost by one at Arizona. They have a great resume. Now lets see how the SEC tournament plays out. Watch out for those Gators!
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