If the NCAA Tournament began today, neither Florida nor UConn would make it.
That sobering truth should fuel both teams in Saturday's Gainesville-based rematch (2 p.m., CBS) of a 2014 Final Four game and a December 2013 thriller in Storrs, Connecticut.
Florida's best win is over the Yale team that beat UConn; UConn's is over Dayton. The Gators are coming off a Tuesday loss to Florida State on a Jacob Kurtz-inflicted tip-in; the Huskies just fell to Temple in overtime on Wednesday. But it's Florida, with a ravenous defense, that sits in the top 25 of the KenPom rankings, at No. 21: UConn is No. 44, thanks to pitiful outside shooting — that will, assuredly, be great today, because everyone shoots well against Florida — that has diminished efficiency.
For the Huskies, that might really be the key: Thus far this season, when they have posted an Effective Field Goal Percentage of better than 50 percent, they've scored better than a point per possession, and won. When it has not, UConn has been under a point per possession, and lost.
Florida's counter to that? When it holds teams under 0.85 points per possession, it has won, and when it hasn't, it has lost. The Gators aren't good or efficient enough on offense, especially with what has been a patchwork lineup, to make up for defensive woes, and not letting Ryan Boatright or Amida Brimah get hot must be a priority for them if they want to win today.
Eli Carter might play, and he'll help Florida if he can contribute on offense, but this game will come down to what Florida's defense does to UConn's offense, in all likelihood.
If the Gators can play with the desperation for revenge — and a signature win — that they ought to have, it should also result in a Florida victory.