Through 38 games, the Florida Gators' 2013-14 season is the best season a Florida basketball team has ever had.
It's also not close.
This post is an attempt to catalog all of the things this team has won. It will be incomplete, just because it has to be incomplete, because Florida's probably setting records that no one has on the radar right now. Sorry about that.
...okay, I'm not sorry about that at all. I'd actually love it if Florida could keep making my job harder.
Florida is on a 30-game winning streak, the longest in school history by 13 games.
Entering 2013-14, there were only six winning streaks of more than 10 games in school history — the Gators essentially went on the longest winning streak in school history, then added the seventh-longest winning streak in school history on top of that. Florida tied the school record for consecutive wins with its 17th win at Kentucky. It could have lost its next game — which was that scare against Auburn at home — and then won every game since, and be on the eighth-longest winning streak in school history right now.
Instead, it's on a streak that will be close to unbreakable.
More quick streak facts:
- 29 of Florida's 30 wins have come by more than one point, with their 61-60 win over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament final being the outlier.
- 29 of the 30 wins came in regulation. Only Florida's 84-82 win at Arkansas went to overtime.
- 26 of the 30 wins came by more than three points, and thus more than one possession. The exceptions: Florida 77, Memphis 75; Florida 84, Arkansas 82; Florida 57, Vanderbilt 54; Florida 61, Kentucky 60. (The common thread: All four games happened away from home.)
- Florida has won in Alabama (two games), Arkansas, Georgia (three SEC Tournament games, none against Georgia), Florida (15 games, including two NCAA Tournament games), Kentucky, Mississippi (two games), New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee (four games) during the streak. It has won as many games in the state of Florida as it has outside of it during the streak.
- Only ("only") 12 of the 30 wins have come at the O'Dome. Nine of the wins have come in true road games, three in games I'd call "semi-home" games (vs. Fresno State in Sunrise; vs. Albany and Pittsburgh in Orlando), four in "true neutral" games (vs. Memphis at Madison Square Garden; vs. Missouri and Tennessee in Atlanta; vs. UCLA in Memphis), and two in "semi-road" environments (vs. Kentucky in Atlanta; vs. Dayton in Memphis, somehow).
- Florida has beaten eight different teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament over the span of the streak: Kansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Kentucky, Albany, Pittsburgh, UCLA, and Dayton. All eight of those teams won at least one NCAA Tournament game; all but Albany advanced to the round of 32; Tennessee, Kentucky, UCLA, and Dayton advanced to the Sweet Sixteen; Kentucky and Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight.
- As noted by Scott Carter: Florida is the fifth team in college basketball history to enter the Final Four on a single-season 30-game winning streak1, joining 1975-76 Indiana, 1977-78 Indiana State, 1990-91 UNLV, and 1998-99 Duke. Of those teams, only Indiana won the national title ... and the Hoosiers played in a 32-team NCAA Tournament.
- Those teams also produced players who went No. 2 (Scott May), No. 6 (Larry Bird2), No. 1 (Larry Anderson), and No. 1 (Elton Brand) in their respective NBA Drafts. Florida will be lucky to have a lottery pick come from this roster, and if a Gator on this roster does get picked in the lottery, it will be in the 2015 NBA Draft or later.
Florida is 36-2. That is the best record in Florida history after 38 games, which is no shock: The 36 wins are the most any Florida team has ever had.
These Gators have been guaranteed the best winning percentage in program history for three weeks now. With their win over Kentucky to finish the regular season, the Gators could not finish worse than 29-4 on the year; a 29-4 record produces a .878 winning percentage, slightly better than the .875 posted by Florida's 2006-07 national champions, who went 35-5.
The 36 wins are the second-most by an SEC team, behind the 38 recorded by 2011-12 Kentucky, and tied for third-most in college basketball history. Seven teams have won more than 36 games in a single season in the history of Division I college basketball, and only John Calipari's 2007-08 Memphis and 2011-12 Kentucky teams have won 38 games, feats accomplished with the No. 1 picks in the 2008 NBA Draft (Derrick Rose) and 2012 NBA Draft (Anthony Davis), respectively.
Florida's 21 wins against SEC teams are a conference record, as is the Gators' 18-0 record in SEC play during the regular season. Both of those records are theoretically unbreakable, unless the SEC expands, or expands its conference schedule, neither of which is likely.
Of course, Florida could break its own record if beats Kentucky for the national title.
Other record facts:
- Florida compiled the best record in program history despite a fair bit of adversity: Suspensions and injuries left the Gators with a maximum of one healthy point guard for the first month of the season, and just six truly healthy scholarship players for their six-point loss at Wisconsin; Florida finished both of its losses this year, at Final Four team Wisconsin and Elite Eight team UConn, without either Scottie Wilbekin or Kasey Hill available to play.
- With both Wilbekin and Hill available this year, Florida is 27-0.
- The only Florida players to play in all 38 games this season are Michael Frazier II, Will Yeguete, and Patric Young. Casey Prather missed Florida's wins at Arkansas and over Georgia, Dorian Finney-Smith missed Florida's season-opening win over North Florida and loss at Wisconsin, Wilbekin missed the season's first five games due to suspension, and Hill missed seven games due to injuries to his ankle and groin.
Remember when I made a list of the records that Florida had set in 2013-14 prior to the LSU game? Well, Florida hasn't set many records since ... partly because of how many it had already set.
Here's a semi-complete list of records Florida and Gators players have set this season:
- Most wins by Florida, single season: 36
- Best winning percentage, single season: Currently .947; will finish from .923 to .950.
- Most SEC wins by SEC team, single season: 21
- Best SEC winning percentage by SEC team: 1.000
- Most wins, Florida career: 120, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, Patric Young, and Scottie Wilbekin3
- Most SEC wins, Florida career: 55, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, Patric Young, and Scottie Wilbekin
- Most NCAA Tournament games, Florida career: 16, Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young
- Most threes in a game, Florida player: 11, Michael Frazier II (Mar. 4, 2014, vs. South Carolina)
- Most threes in an SEC game, conference record: 11, Michael Frazier II (Mar. 4, 2014, vs. South Carolina)
- Most threes in a season, Florida player: 117, Michael Frazier II
- Longest winning streak in school history: 30 games (Dec. 10, 2013 to present, ongoing)
- Longest home winning streak in school history: 32 games (Nov. 11, 2012 to present, ongoing)
- Longest road winning streak in school history: 9 games (Jan. 11, 2014 to present, ongoing)
- Longest SEC winning streak in school history: 21 games (Jan. 9, 2014 to present, ongoing)
- Longest home SEC winning streak in school history: 18 games (Jan. 9, 2013 to present, ongoing)
- Longest road SEC winning streak in school history: 8 (Jan. 11, 2014 to present, ongoing)
- Most wins to open SEC schedule in school history: 18 ... or 21 (2014)
- Most consecutive winning seasons in school history: 16 (1999-present)
- Most consecutive SEC winning seasons in school history: 16 (1999-present)
Florida played five Sweet Sixteen teams and four Elite Eigh ... oops, that's 2012 Florida. Florida played three Sweet Sixteen teams and two Elite Eight tea ... wait, nope, that's 2013 Florida.
Including UCLA and Dayton, 2014 Florida played six of the 15 other Sweet Sixteen teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and four other Elite Eight teams, and all three other Final Four teams, which may be unprecedented. And, including NCAA Tournament games, the Gators played 10 teams that won at least one NCAA Tournament game this season: Albany, Dayton, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, UCLA, UConn, and Wisconsin.
So, please, tell me again how easy Florida's NCAA Tournament draw was, with an Albany team that scared Florida, a Pittsburgh squad that scared everyone that saw its destruction of Colorado, the UCLA outfit that had probably three NBA players at minimum, and Dayton, which had upset Ohio State, Syracuse, and Stanford — which beat Kansas — on its way to a regional final where deliriously happy and/or drunk Dayton fans outnumbered and drowned out Florida fans saving their pennies for a potential Final Four. Please ignore the fact that Florida earned that fortunate draw over the course of a season spent winning every game it could.
Don't mind me if I laugh while rolling my eyes.
Put it all together and you get a team that is the most accomplished in Florida history to this point, slightly ahead of the 2012 Kentucky team that is among the most accomplished in college basketball history by virtue of the longer SEC schedule and Florida's SEC Tournament title, and doing all of this without the NBA talent that is the driving force behind NCAA champions.
Should Florida win the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Gators will likely become the first NCAA Tournament champions since 1986-87 Indiana to do so without a sure first-rounder on the roster. They would also become the first team since Duke in 2010 to win a title without a player drafted in the first round of the next NBA Draft.
It's not totally right to call Florida "scrappy" or "untalented," but Florida's doing its damage this season with players who are either not likely to be NBA pros or not likely to be NBA pros for a while.
There's some history in that. And there could be more.
The UCLA teams that went on season-long winning streaks under John Wooden were obviously on "30-game winning streaks" entering their Final Fours. But that's kind of different.
Larry Bird's trip to the NBA was stranger than you know and/or remember.
It gave up game-sealing and game-winning shots to the opposing point guard in the final minute of each of those games. Go figure.
We're crediting Prather, Wilbekin, Yeguete, and Young with all of Florida's wins over the last four years. All four players were certainly part of the team for all four of those years, one way or another, and so I'm fine with giving them wins here. Patric Young, however, has played in all of those wins.