Gators continue to pad NCAA tournament portfolio

Florida guard Andrew Nembhard passes the ball around Vanderbilt's Matthew Moyer (13) and Aaron Nesmith (24) during the second half Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. He finished with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists. [Mark Humphrey/Associated Press]

Perhaps Florida’s basketball team has finally caught up with the metrics.

The Gators were getting a lot of love from the NET Rankings back when they were a 12-11 team with a dreadful 4-6 SEC record and three straight losses in the rear-view.

At the time, Florida wasn’t even guaranteed a bid in the NIT.

A lot has changed since Feb. 9.

The Gators have found their groove in winning five consecutive games — three of them on the road — and now find themselves comfortably inside the bubble with three regular season games to play and the SEC Tournament.

“I think we’re very confident, right now,” senior center Kevarrius Hayes told after the game. “I think we have a sense of what we’re capable of. Even though there’s still more to do, we’re getting there. We made a lot of mistakes in this game, but because of how hard we play we can make up for it collectively.”

After a loss to Tennessee on Feb. 9, Florida was still alive despite its record with a NET Ranking of 41 because of its difficult schedule.

Florida’s 71-55 win over Vanderbilt jumped the Gators up a spot to No. 30 in NET Rankings, which are replacing RPI as the main components used by the NCAA selection committee. Even before that win, Florida was projected as a No. 9 seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi., a collection of all of the NCAA projections/guesses has Florida as an 11 seed.

The Gators also have a chance to get a double-bye in the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. Those byes go to the top four teams in the field and while LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky have already clinched those byes, there is a four-way tie for the fourth spot.

Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and South Carolina are all 9-6 with three games to go. Auburn and Alabama are right behind at 8-7.

Florida faces Georgia at home Saturday followed by a home game against LSU and a road trip to Kentucky to close the regular season.

With the win Wednesday night, Florida assured itself of receiving a first-round bye in the league tournament in Nashville. The first round is reserved for the bottom four teams in the standings. Those four teams will open the tournament March 13.

Up next

Who: Georgia (10-18, 1-14 SEC) vs. Florida (17-11, 9-6)

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: O’Connell Center

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


    • I think we need to temper our expectations about finishing fourth. SC has the easiest road the rest of the regular season. If they win out, they are in. We would need to finish ahead of SC I think to place fourth. Our early season loss to visiting SC was really bad.

      • That was my thought too and now especially is when you see us in a four bunch that includes SC. Indeed the double bye would be a great accomplishment and I bet the freshmen could use some rest, not being used to the grind that is SEC basketball.

    • Jack:
      The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency and the quality of wins and losses.
      The rating percentage index (RPI) is used to rank sports teams based upon a team’s wins and losses and its strength of schedule.

  1. Those who gave the Gators up for dead when they lost three in a row failed to to acknowledge that those losses were to three of the best teams in the SEC, two of which were among the best teams in the country. Also, two of the three losses were on the road. Losing all three was disappointing but not devastating.

    At this point I’d rather be a 12 seed than an 8 or 9 seed. The 8-9 winner will have to face the 1-seed in the second round. I’d rather take my chances on the 5-12 upset and face the 4 seed in the second round.