Florida refuses to move off the NCAA Tournament bubble. Provided with an golden opportunity to boost their March Madness resume, the Gators dropped a home contest to No. 10 LSU 79-78 in overtime to fall to 17-13, as well as 9-8 in the SEC on the year.
The Gators held a 55-49 lead with 10:43 left, but allowed a Tremont Water buzzer-beating layup to force overtime. The Tigers outscored the hosts 7-6 in the extra period to come with the road win.
Head coach Michael White is running out of opportunities to sway the committee just before Selection Sunday. Fortunately, one remains with a road trip Saturday to Kentucky (2 p.m. EST, CBS). After that, they may need to play deep into the SEC Tournament next week to feel comfortable.
Let’s take a look at the latest on their NCAA Tournament chances, along with their resume and a few key wins and losses that stand out.
Florida NCAA Tournament Resume
Out of conference, the Gators were a mess, albeit a competitive one. The scuffled to an 8-5 mark, but with 4 of the 5 coming down to single-digits. The most impressive showing was probably a loss, as Florida almost topped a top-10 Michigan State team at home. The next closest is a 24-point rout against a fellow bubble team in Butler (who actually topped the Gators in November).
Conference play has really only provided one highlight. Florida beat LSU in Baton Rouge 82-77 in overtime in the midst of a 5-game winning streak. The rest of the games against the top-4 of the SEC (Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn) ended with double-digit losses. While the Gators are guaranteed to finish with at least a .500 record in the SEC, the conference is only the fourth-best nationally according to Ken Pomeroy.
Florida Bracketology Breakdown
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi included Florida in his latest bracket, moving them from a No. 9 seed to an 11-seed in the South Regional. The Gators are one of his “Last 4 Byes,” meaning 7 teams have to pass them for them to miss the tournament altogether. His projection would set up a matchup with Nevada in Tulsa, with Purdue or Old Dominion on the other side of the pod.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports pegs them with a No. 11 seed out of the Midwest, adding that, “It is not looking good for the Gators.” They would have to get past No. 6 seed Villanova, and then the winner of Texas Tech-Georgia Southern.
Bracket Matrix aggregates 87 prognostications from across the internet. Florida averages out to a 10.56, which puts between a 10 and 11-seed with a smattering of brackets calling for a 9.
For the Gators to clinch a spot, they need to avoid a disastrous loss in the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Obviously, a win over the 6th-ranked Wildcats this weekend would do wonders, but a loss isn’t a killer. An upset to the likes of Vanderbilt, who ranks outside the top-100 in the NET rankings, would be.
If a loss like that happens, Gator fans will be regretting the second half at O’Connell Center against the Tigers. With a lead on a top-10 team, it would have provided insurance for any potential blunders down the road.