Florida starts SEC play with RPI of 35


It would be surprising if there is any nail-biting for Florida this Selection Sunday.

But so far, the Gators have done well enough in their non-conference schedule to put themselves in position for a high seed.

Florida (12-3) opens Southeastern Conference play at Tennessee with an Ratings Percentage Index ranking of 35. The RPI measures a team’s record against its strength of schedule.

Florida lost all of its non-conference road games, at Syracuse (No. 1 RPI) at Ohio State (No. 8 RPI) and at Rutgers (No. 215 RPI). UF’s current strength of schedule stands at 98. UF’s best win this season has come in overtime against Arizona (No. 47 RPI). Wins against Florida State (No. 78 RPI) and Texas A&M  (No. 226 RPI) were not as strong as initially expected this preseason.

Overall, the Gators are currently 1-2 this season against the RPI Top 50 and 3-2 vs. the RPI Top 100 (Yale’s RPI is 91).

The SEC ranks sixth nationally in RPI, behind the Big Ten (1), Big East (2), Big 12 (3), Mountain West (4) and ACC (5).

Other notes:

— Florida senior point guard Erving Walker was named as one of 20 finalists for the Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard. Walker is second in the Southeastern Conference with 5.3 assists per game. Other finalists include Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Duke’s Seth Curry and Mississippi State’s Dee Bost.

— High school sophomore Joel Embile, a 7-foot-1 center from Cameroon, was at the O’Connell Center to watch the UF-UAB game on Tuesday night.  Embile plays at Montverde Academy in Clermont, the same high school as 2012 UF shooting guard signee Michael Frazier and 2013 point guard commit Kasey Hill.

— Also at the UF-UAB was Khem Birch, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound freshman power forward who left Pittsburgh after just on semester. A five-star recruit and former McDonald’s All-American from Canada, Birch would be eligible to play in January of 2013 if he transfers to another Division I school.