The Postseason NIT isn't where the Florida Gators wanted to be at the end of their 2015-16 season — but since they're here anyway, they seem to have taken an interest in stretching this season out for as long as possible.
Florida's won its two NIT games on the road, something no other quarterfinalist can boast, and the Gators won them in very different ways: They bombed North Florida from deep in Jacksonville, then dissected Ohio State in Columbus. And the surprising constant between those games has been Kasey Hill.
Hill's play in the NIT is, to be clear, not quite the best basketball of his Florida career, not when highs like a 10-assist game off the bench in the Sweet Sixteen, an eight-point, seven-assist evisceration of Kentucky off the bench, and better games in the SEC Tournament are also on his ledger. But Hill is scoring more — averaging 14.5 points in the NIT, 16.3 points in his last four games, and 13.3 points per game over his last nine outings — and he's been a dervish in transition.
And, more importantly, he's been a consistent help. Hill has posted an Offensive Rating of 90 or better over his last nine outings, by far his longest such streak as a Gator. While 90 implies that Florida would score just 90 points per 100 possessions with Hill on the floor, it's also leaps and bounds better than some of his worst numbers (34, 36, 40, and 46 are all on his scorecard this year) — and Offensive Rating doesn't capture how much Hill helps on defense, where he's come to be the Gators' best on-ball defender.
Florida was able to get away with Hill as a defensive point guard and Chris Chiozza as an offensive point guard for stretches of this season, but Chiozza's lull at the end of it has made it more important for Hill to step up — and he has. If he continues to do so, Florida should be able to get past George Washington (7 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN) on this Wednesday night, and play in Madison Square Garden in an NIT semifinal.
Or Hill could falter, Florida could get eaten alive inside by Tyler Cavanaugh and Kevin Larsen with John Egbunu's minutes allocated to Kevarrius Hayes and Schuyler Rimmer, and this surprising postseason run could terminate in the nation's capital. You know, whichever.