It shouldn't happen like this.
That's been the thought on my mind since last Wednesday, when Florida beat Vanderbilt at home to get Billy Donovan to 499 career wins. I was pretty sure Florida wasn't going to win at LSU on Saturday — and right — which would mean Donovan's next chance at the milestone would come in Columbia, against a Missouri team that's significantly worse than Florida, and maybe the SEC's worst team.
Florida should beat Missouri tonight, maybe even without the still-injured Michael Frazier II and the still-suspended Dorian Finney-Smith. Missouri is, incredibly, worse on offense than the Gators, who just spent two games scoring under 0.85 points per possession; the Tigers are 195th in adjusted offensive efficiency to Florida's 137th, though Florida's offensive performance over the last two games would rank 350th nationally in the hypothetical universe where two games is the same as a season.
Missouri's defense is even worse than its offense, ranked 217th nationally. Florida's defense, the lone bright spot of this year's campaign, is the No. 10 unit in the country, and should be able to clamp down on the Tigers, who rely on Keith Shamburger to slash inside and Johnathan Williams to clean up down low. Shamburger's just 5'11", and likely won't be shooting too many threes (he averages about four a game) over Kasey Hill, while Williams is just 6'9" and 225 pounds, and the rare frontcourt player in the SEC who won't tower over or overpower Florida's alternately ground-bound and slender frontliners.
That combination of factors, and a terrible run of form that has produced a 13-game losing streak for Missouri, leaves the Gators in the somewhat unfamiliar role of road favorite on this night. They should win Donovan's 500th game, and get back to .500 by doing so.
But this team does nothing easily, and doesn't even fail the same way all the time. I'd believe any script for a Florida loss right now, and disbelieve almost any one for a win that doesn't feature grinding defense.
And if Donovan gets win No. 500 with that blueprint, rather than with the offense on which he made his name, it'll be weird. Welcome, yes, but weird.
It shouldn't happen like this — but this season definitely hasn't gone as it should have.