Back Nine: Florida looking at possible three seed
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 5:42 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where my wife and daughter swam with dolphins and I mainly sat in a recliner watching hoops. I need to get out more.
10. There were some angry Gator fans after Florida's meltdown against Kentucky if you go by my emails and Twitter account. You'd think Florida hadn't won the SEC this season judging by some of the comments. Certainly, the way this team has collapsed late in three of its road games is a concern. The bigger concern is that the committee isn't going to be overly impressed with UF's resume. The Gators played a tough non-conference schedule and have a nice RPI as a result (sixth) but there isn't a great win away from home that stands out. Florida, which flirted with being a one seed, is probably looking at a three seed now. I don't know if I have ever seen a team go for 7½ minutes without scoring to close out a game. But I have now. The funny thing is until that point in the game, this team had really shown some moxie in a tough environment against a desperate team. We'll see how the Gators play this week in Nashville. That could tell you a lot about their mindset. And we'll especially see about Mike Rosario, who was so good at times this season, but has struggled lately. His four turnovers Saturday were brutal.
11. Speaking of Kentucky, if the Wildcats think they are in the NCAA Tournament they are wrong. They still have work to do. They are in right now but a one-and-done in Nashville would knock them out of the field. “I think the job is done,” John Calipari said after the win over Florida. “I feel like the work is done. I think that just solidifies it.” The 'Cats need one more win and they are one of four bubble teams from the league, which just makes the SEC Tournament that much more interesting. If we get Kentucky-Arkansas and Alabama-Tennessee on Friday it will be a great day.
12. Teams will be dissected by the NCAA selection committee based on their records at home and on the road. And then they go and play games that are neither. That's one reason we see so many upsets in the tourney. Nobody's playing at home. Nobody's playing a true road game. Both teams have to deal with unfamiliar settings. I think the best bet for Florida is to be sent to Dayton. How great would it be if they were sent to Austin? I'm not sure how Kentucky fans would respond to the Gators playing in Rupp Arena again.
13. And because the games are being played at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, it's almost impossible to figure out who will win the SEC Tournament. Missouri is the sixth seed, but is probably the second best team in the conference. And it can't play away from home. Florida, as we all know, struggled down the stretch on the road with its back-loaded schedule. Kentucky lost at Arkansas and at Georgia before its big win over Florida. And what are we to make of Tennessee? Can the Vols continue their strong play down the stretch?
14. The Back Nine is eager to see the bracket on Sunday because we all should know by now that matchups are a big part of how much success a team will have. It's rare when there is a clear-cut favorite like Kentucky was last year. I wouldn't eliminate any team in the top 15 RPI-wise. It's easy to fall in love with a team like Duke, but one cold shooting night and see ya. The tournament is at its best when it's wide open and this year could be absolute chaos. We already got a taste of it when Liberty became the second 20-loss team to make the field. Think about it for a minute. If you're a fan of the Liberty Flames (which sounds like a WNBA team), you suffered through 20 losses and now you are in the Big Dance. You opened the season with a 42-point loss to Richmond, were 0-8 at one point and you are playing in the same tournament as Indiana and Kansas and North Carolina. Is this a great country or what?
15. One of the great things about this time of the year is that not only is college basketball in its postseason and Major League Baseball is getting ready to start, but spring football is in full bloom. Can the SEC win another national title? Of course it can. Look around this conference and you will see teams stacked with athletes. And the best of the best all have quarterbacks coming back. I don't know if the league has ever been this solid at the position with the Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel along with Aaron Murray, Jeff Driskel, Connor Shaw, A.J. McCarron and James Franklin not to mention Zach Mettenberger. He has to be better this season, doesn't he? You take the field and I'll take the SEC to make it eight in a row.
16. You saw Sunday why I am not a big Tiger Woods fan. When he's got it going, he makes golf boring. Doral should have been an amazing Sunday with the leaderboard that the Tour dreams of. But Woods is playing well and that means there is no point in watching. Because his best is still better than anyone else's, especially on a course he likes. At any rate, he is already the favorite at Augusta. Hopefully, he doesn't ruin it for me.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Sports Illustrated hoops writer Andy Glockner — “I wish they didn't have Sunday finals at all, but it's not that hard for the committee to account for them once they order all the teams.” It is a strange deal to have Sunday games that could affect the bracket, but in most cases the committee comes up with an either/or situation. I'm not sure that Sunday finals between two teams already in the tournament matter at all to the selection committee.
18. In keeping with the season, try these downloads this week — “Madness” by Muse, “Run My Way” by March and for the old schoolers “One Step Beyond” by Madness. OK, maybe it's not that old.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.