By winning the SEC East, the No. 10 Gators get to play at 11am against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament today. While 11am isn't exactly early, and most of us have played Little League games much earlier than that, I cannot imagine anyone being in peak physical condition at 11am. Not only that, it's 10am Central time, even worse for the Razorbacks (the tournament is in Hoover, Ala.).
Earlier this season, Arky swept the Gators (38-18, 19-11) in Fayetteville, but the teams have gone in opposite directions. The Razorbacks (32-20, 14-15) have lost 8 of 10 games, including their last three. UF's 6-4 record in their last ten isn't that impressive, but they have won 12 of 16 games. UF is a streaky team, with win streaks of 8, 5 (twice), and 4 (twice). They've also had three 3 game losing streaks. In a tournament, this is a huge benefit and huge disadvantage. One bad game can submarine the whole run. But as we saw last season with Fresno State's improbable run to the National Championship, a hot team can crush people.
On the bump today is Stephen Locke (4-1, 4.88), who has experienced enough chaos this season to last a lifetime. Florida has not gotten this far on the strength of their pitching (they are 11th in batting average allowed, .296), but in tournament play, you need your pitching to go deep into games and avoid long at-bats. A good performance by UF can give them one of the coveted top-8 spots in the tournament, so they can host a Super Regional.