Tonight is a huge test for the Gators (4-0) as they face No. 2 Michigan State (4-0) in Atlantic City. Facing No. 2 is always a big deal, even early in the season. But the Gators have had to deal with the critique that they have been soft the last two seasons, lacking the toughness of the Oh Fours, Lee Humphrey and even Matt Walsh (you forget he played his last season with skin literally falling off his foot). The Spartans are anything but soft. Returning three starters from last season's National Runner-up, State won games by force alone, not jump shots and set plays. In their second game against Gonzaga, the Spartans rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to win 75-71. Contrast that with UF allowing a 22-point second half lead drop to 5-points, before they recovered and won by 16.
Win or lose, tonight's game does not have that great of an effect on the season. It is enough for the Gators to play a team that will punch them in the face and not let up. For Florida to improve, they have to learn how to play with rough teams like Michigan State. That's a benefit of Florida's games against Syracuse, Xavier and UMass or Rutgers on Saturday. This is a resume builder for March.