The Back Nine comes at you after a crazy weekend and way too much green beer. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
10. Mike White figured Florida had to be in based on the metrics, but as team after team came up during the selection show with no Gators, the Florida coach could see his guys tensing up. “You could see it on the faces of Kevarrius (Hayes) and Jalen (Hudson),” he said Monday. “There was some tension in the room.” Florida’s draw is difficult because Nevada is really good and Michigan is really better. Nevada owned the woeful Pac-12 this year going 3-0 against the league. Those were the only games against Power Five teams the Wolf Pack played. It’s kind of funny that before this season started I was listening to a show and the expert was talking about Nevada as a team to watch out for this year and I filed that away. Anyway, I think it’s interesting. White might want to call San Diego State’s Brian Dutcher for some advice. The Aztecs handed Nevada half of its four losses this year. (And also lost by 28, but who’s counting?)
11. We’ll never know for sure what would have happened to the Gators had they gone one-and-done in the SEC Tournament, but Florida — with those three games — ended up No. 40 on the seed list despite having a 31 NET Rankings. That tells you that the selection committee used the new NET Rankings as a guide, but not the be-all, end-all. The lowest seeded team that didn’t win its tournament was No. 47 St. Johns. So it’s likely, the Gators made the tournament when they beat Arkansas and moved up a seed line with the win over LSU. Like we all figured. “We did enough to get there,” White said.
12. Of course, there were a lot of people screaming back in Gainesville on Friday when Andrew Nembhard hit the shot against LSU that felt like it officially tipped off March Madness and then 24 hours later there was a lot of screaming again for different reasons. What do you tell a 17-year-old who bursts into your office yelling, “How is that not a foul?” You just say, “S-E-C.” At least I did and I think it is important to note that the officials giveth and they taketh away. The turning point in that LSU win was the six-point play that should have been just a couple of free throws and the ball for Florida. We all know it was a bad call (Keyontae Johnson saw the flagrant happen in front of him, paused and then shot). The non-call on Andrew Nembhard at the end of the Auburn game was brutal. At least it exposed just how mediocre officiating is in this conference. But it was hardly surprising. I admit the sport is hard to officiate … especially when you’re not looking.
13. The talking heads and ink-stained wretches seem to agree that this was one of the few times the selection committee got it right (about 85 percent of their glee was based on Belmont making the field). The one exception is that Michigan State didn’t catch a break drawing Duke as the one seed in its bracket, which doesn’t seem fair, but if you want to win this thing you’re probably going to have to beat Duke at some point. I’ll give you my bracket later in the week, but I know that today will be spent in the annual rite of looking at the flaws of the highest seeds trying to find the potential for an upset. For example, I don’t know what to do with Auburn, which is on a roll after winning the SEC Tournament. Auburn feels like a team that could make it to the Elite Eight, but one bad shooting night and they’re done. Auburn wasn’t a good road team until the end of the season and you wonder about fatigue after four games in four days and a Tuesday flight to Salt Lake City as the reward. The Tigers might have to beat Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky if the seeds hold in that region. See, I don’t know what to do with Auburn. In fact, the SEC teams in the field are all a little hard to figure. Part of the reason is these teams have been battling known commodities for months and the NCAA Tournament is so different than anything. For example, what do you do with LSU?
14. So Florida’s football team will play in 2019 its fourth straight Tigers team for homecoming. This year it’s Auburn and it has been LSU and Missouri twice the other three years. I’m sure Auburn doesn’t feel as insulted as LSU did two years ago. Those Tigers were just looking for a reason to feel disrespected. Homecoming is not the same as it used to be when you’d bring in a crummy directional team so the alumni would go home happy. Florida has lost two straight Homecoming games, for those of you scoring at home. This year’s game did not make the list of the 10 games that will shape this year’s playoff race, according to the NCAA website, but two of the UF games did make the list. Here you go:
• Florida vs Miami
• Auburn vs Oregon
• Texas A&M at Clemson
• LSU at Texas
• Notre Dame at Georgia
• Oklahoma vs Texas
• Notre Dame at Michigan
• Alabama at Texas A&M
• Georgia vs Florida
• Ohio St at Michigan
Notice there are four neutral site games among the 10. And this list goes back to what I’ve been saying about how important that Miami game is.
15. One impression from last week’s practice I attended, there are two guys who feel like they are about to have breakout years on offense — Trevon Grimes and Lucas Krull. Grimes is the kind of special athlete at the wide receiver position who Florida needs to make the offense really dangerous. And Krull will be a major weapon at tight end for Dan Mullen this season. The question is whether anybody will be targeted enough to put up All-SEC numbers. The Gators are so loaded at wide receiver they could lead the league in passing and not have a first-team All-SEC receiver, because the completions are so spread out. Just look at last year when Florida had eight receivers (including two tailbacks) with double-digit catches, but nobody more than Van Jefferson’s 35. That’s only 53 off the school record.
16. The Players Championship in March ended up with Rory McIlroy winning on St. Patrick’s Day? What more do you need to know that it should never be moved again. It was a special weekend with all of the stuff going on, including Gatornationals all weekend and a baseball doubleheader Saturday. This week isn’t as busy around Gainesville, but it will be busy on your TVs.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Dan Wolken, the columnist from USA Today — “The SEC long ago clinched the season long award for worst officiating moments among the power conferences and now they’re just running up the score.” This was right after the non-call on Nembhard. See, it wasn’t just me.
18. I did spend part of Sunday listening to Irish music on a Sirius channel. But I did not wear green. I’m Irish every day. We let you into the club on St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s your playlist:
• “Happy Birthday, You’re Alone” by Joshua Speers.
• “The Mapping of Dandruff” by the Indoor Pets
• “Salvation” by The Strumbellas
• “bury a friend” by Billie Eilish.
• And for an oldie, kinda, the Herbie Hancock-Norah Jones’ version of “Court and Spark” by Joni Mitchell on Mitchell’s 75th birthday tribute album last November.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.