Players who need to step up for Florida basketball come Tourney Time

The Gators will need to see increased contributions from a few players if they want to make a run during March Madness
Alabama v Florida
Alabama v Florida / James Gilbert/GettyImages

Florida basketball is set to make a return to March Madness after missing out on the tournament of the past few seasons, and there is a decent bit of optimism around college basketball that the Gators could make it to the second weekend.

Florida has one of the best guard combinations in the SEC and are able to bully just about everybody else on the glass.

While there is a lot to be excited about as we get to postseason play, Florida still needs a few guys to step up if they want to be a threat as March continues.

While we've seen some stars emerge near the end of the season, there are two guys on Florida's roster whose performance could make or break the Gators' run.

Florida basketball: Leave it all on the court

Now that we're in March, players have to leave everything out on the court. It's do-or-die once that bracket comes out.

For Florida to survive, there's a pair of players that will have to step up.

The first of those two guys is Riley Kugel. Riley figured to be the best player on this team in the preseason, and had a solid start to the year. But now his minutes aren't quite as consistent and it feels like Golden doesn't quite trust him to play a ton of minutes in big games.

He was only on the floor for a combined 13 minutes over UF's two matchups with Alabama and has only scored in double figures once over the last eight games. One of Riley's biggest problems this year has been turnovers, which he had four of in the Gators' loss to Vanderbilt this weekend.

If Kugel can relax and play calm, hopefully we can see him turn back into the elite scorer we saw at the end of last season.

The second guy that needs to improve before the tournament is Micah Handlogten. The big transfer from Marshall was a strong contributor for a while, but has hit a bit of a cold spell.

He has two points in each of UF's last two games and didn't make anything in 22 minutes at South Carolina. He had a double-double against Missouri a few weeks ago, which was his last great game since Florida's win over UGA in January.

Alex Condon has really come on strong, which is taking some minutes away from Micah. But Handlogten's size and length is something that Florida is going to need on the court during the tournament.

This Florida team is dangerous enough already in a win-and-advance setting like the tournament. But they can be a serious threat to make a run if Riley Kugel and Micah Handlogten are able to contribute at a higher level.