Florida basketball: Gators still riding the bubble

The Florida basketball team still sits on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. That bubble could burst with a big letdown.

So far, Florida basketball has done just enough to keep themselves in contention for an NCAA Tournament spot.

But their prospects are riding on a pretty volatile bubble that could burst if the Gators have a letdown.

The Gators are 3-2 in their last five games — including a close loss at Kentucky last weekend — but there is still a lot of work to be done if Florida basketball hopes to solidify a spot for March Madness.

Florida basketball has four games left in the regular season and they certainly won’t be easy. Going 3-1 in the next two weeks would likely lock the Gators into the tournament.

Anything less and the Gators will have to rely on their performance in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tennessee to get a spot.

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According to ESPN’s Bracketology, the Gators remain a No. 9 seed. But instead of being in Omaha where a matchup with Kansas would await, they have moved to the East Region in Sacramento, California (yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me either).

In Sacramento, they are matched up with No. 8 seed St. Mary’s out of the West Coast Conference. A win would put them against either No. 1 (and previously unbeaten) San Diego State or No. 16 Austin Peay.

Florida basketball

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – FEBRUARY 22: Tre Mann #1 of the Florida Gators takes a shot while guarded by Ashton Hagans #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on February 22, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

It’s marginally a better draw for the Gators if that were to hold.

However, Florida basketball has to work for more than just the No. 9 position in a regional. That is one of the toughest spots to be in. The committee attempts to put similar teams together in that 8-9 matchup with the winner likely getting the No. 1 seed in the second round.

That’s not a good position to be in.

Realistically, if things were to fall into place, the Gators could jump to as high as a No. 7 or No. 6 seed, which would be tough but would be a bit of an easier path to the regional finals.

Right now, the SEC is looking at getting four teams in the tournament — Kentucky and Auburn as No. 4 seeds, LSU as a No. 8 seed and the Gators as a No. 9.

Barring a huge upset at the SEC tournament, that is likely to hold. However, if a lower team does grab the automatic bid from the tournament, you could see Florida basketball bounced from the tournament.

Needless to say, the Gators have their work cut out for them as the end of the season it not going to be easy.

Things start Wednesday with a rematch against LSU. That follows with road games at Tennessee and Georgia before a regular-season finale at home against Kentucky.

Right now, the Gators hold the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament, with Mississippi State nipping at their heels. The difference between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds is a bye. The No. 4 seed gets a bye into the quarterfinals, but the No. 5 seed only gets a first-round bye and will play the winner of the 12-13 game (Missouri vs. Georgia as things stand now).

Next: Gators' bubble on the line now

That is a pretty big difference and Florida basketball has to hope for the No. 4 seed to draw the extra bye.

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