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Florida vs. Ohio State, NIT Game Thread: A "rivalry" renewed

Can Florida beat Ohio State in yet another postseason meeting?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes have one of those rivalries that is more akin to hammer and nail or blowtorch and dried leaf — at least in the postseason.

Over the last decade, Florida has won two national titles at Ohio State's expense, doing so in the span of just under three months from January to April 2007. That short run of dominance led to jokes about Florida owning Ohio, and made the two schools enemies linked by history.

Since then, Florida's continued to beat the Buckeyes when postseason play rolls around, with the Gators prevailing in the 2012 Gator Bowl and the women's 2012 NCAA Tournament. But Florida's men's basketball team has seen Ohio State three times since that fateful day in April 2007 — and it's 0-3 in those meetings, dropping the return trip to Columbus after a December 2006 beatdown in the O'Connell Center and both legs of a home-and-home spanning the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

And those contests haven't been particularly close, with Ohio State winning all three by at least seven points and by an average of 12.7 points.

Sunday's game, in the second round of the 2016 Postseason NIT (noon, ESPN or WatchESPN), gives the Gators a postseason opportunity to get back on track.

Ohio State has struggled with good teams this season, notching just seven wins over teams ranked in the top 100 of KenPom in its 21 victories. Two of those wins came against Northwestern; two came in overtime games against teams outside the top 80. The Buckeyes did beat Kentucky back in December, but that was a long time ago, and both teams were radically different then.

Ohio State hit half its threes in that game, for example, something the Buckeyes — like the Gators, coming off just a fourth game in which they did so this season — rarely do, and also held Kentucky to poor numbers from the field. And that's important, because defense is key to the Buckeyes' success: They're 3-13 when teams score at least a point per possession on them, and 18-0 when they hold teams under that threshold, with wins over NCAA Tournament participants Iowa and Michigan to go with that toppling of Kentucky.

Florida's capable of putting up a point per possession on Sunday, even against the nation's No. 35 defense per KenPom; the Gators have actually done so more often than not this year, despite what has seemed like performance after performance of flailing offense.

They've only done so six times on the road, though, and while they're coming off their best road show of the year at North Florida, getting three-fueled offense certainly isn't a reliable strategy for these Gators, even if it will be tempting to do so with John Egbunu back in Gainesville and recovering from thumb surgery.

If Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza can dart and distribute as they do at their best, Florida should have every chance to move on in the NIT. If not? This could well be Florida's final game of the 2015-16 season.