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The Xavier Game Just Got Real, Son

A quick look at Joe Lunardi's Bracketology and you will find the SEC getting five teams, with the fifth your Florida Gators. To me, it seems Lunardi is very favorable to the Gators, putting them in the Jacksonville pod as a 10 seed. Lunardi, who is like a savant on these things, has the Gators facing a seventh seeded Xavier.

With a month remaining in the regular season, now is the right time to seriously start assessing the Gators' chances to dance. At 17-6, and 6-3 in a decent league, the next eight games will have a huge swing on what happens for UF. Defeating a frisky South Carolina on the road Wednesday will be big. But defeating Xavier, who has a better RPI than UF but is 3-5 in road games, will be just as big.

The selection committee will not judge UF's regular season finish as much as their SEC Tournament finish, since UF has to prove they can play in tournament mode. The out-of-conference games though will provide tiebreakers, especially if usual heavyweights like UConn and UNC make conference tourney runs. The Gators also have to worry about the monster Big East getting eight of 16 teams in, including the suddenly good USF Bulls.

Florida has been moving up lately, but it can still go either way. After this week, UF finishes with four of six games against likely tournament teams (at Ole Miss and UK; home vs. UT and Vandy). Losing all four of those games could kill the Gators. Winning them might clinch a dance spot. But they have to start winning now to prevent any Selection Day surprises.