First and foremost, Florida (15-15, 8-9 SEC) can clinch the seventh seed in the SEC Tournament outright with an upset of No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
But considering Kentucky (30-0, 17-0 SEC) is unbeaten in 30 tries and 101-4 at Rupp Arena under John Calipari, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.
So if Florida closes the season with a loss at Rupp, the tiebreaker scenarios for the 7 seed are more muddled. Basically, Florida needs to root for Vanderbilt to lose its season finale at Ole Miss and Alabama to lose its season finale at Texas A&M. If Alabama wins, Florida can still get the 7 seed in a four-way tiebreak if Tennessee beats South Carolina at home. Like Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama will both be underdogs going into their respective games.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the tiebreaker scenarios:
— If Vanderbilt beats Ole Miss and Florida loses at Kentucky, Vanderbilt would get the 7 seed at 9-9 and Florida would get the 8 seed at 8-10. Florida can do no worse than the 8 seed because it holds all tiebreak advantages with Tennessee and Alabama based on a 2-0 head-to-head record against both teams.
— If Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Tennessee (at home against South Carolina) all lose, Florida and Vanderbilt would finish 8-10, while Tennessee and Alabama would be at 7-11. The Gators would get the 7 seed and Vanderbilt would get the 8 seed. Florida and Vanderbilt split its season series, but the Gators would hold the advantage based on a 1-2 record against top two seeds Kentucky and Arkansas. Vanderbilt is 0-2 against the top two seeds.
— If there’s a three-way tie at 8-10 with Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee at 8-10, Florida would get the 7 seed based on a 2-1 record against Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The Vols (1-2) would land the 8 seed and Vanderbilt would be the 9 seed.
— If there’s a three-way tie at 8-10 with Florida, Vanderbilt and Alabama at 8-10, Vanderbilt would get the 7 seed based on a 3-1 head-to-head record against Alabama and Florida. Florida would be the 8 seed at 2-1 and Alabama would be the 9 seed at 0-3.
— If there’s a four-way tie at 8-10 with Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Tennessee, Florida would get the tiebreak as the 7 seed based on a 3-1 head-to-head record with the three teams (.750 win percentage). Vanderbilt, with a 4-2 record against the three teams (.667), would get the 8 seed, followed by Tennessee at the 9 seed (1-3) and Alabama at the 10 seed (1-3).
The motivation for Florida landing the 7 seed is obvious. By getting the 7 seed, Florida would avoid a potential rematch with No. 1 Kentucky until the SEC Tournament finals. As an 8 seed, if Florida won the 8-9 game on Thursday, it would face No. 1 Kentucky on Friday. As a 7 seed, Florida would face 2 seed Arkansas if it advances, which is a more winnable game. The Gators edged Arkansas 57-56 earlier this season at the O’Connell Center.