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Florida vs. Alabama, Game Thread: Can Gators find a roll on the road?

Florida doesn’t absolutely have to have this win at Alabama. But it sure would be nice.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This back end of the Florida Gators’ schedule, as the 2018-19 college basketball season approaches the postseason, is mostly made up of chances for the Gators to improve their standing and chances to really, really damage it.

Taking a road trip to Alabama sort of falls in the middle.

Alabama is probably going to make the NCAA Tournament this year, but only as a double-digit seed, barring a really good finish in conference play: The Crimson Tide didn’t schedule particularly well in non-conference play, and didn’t win enough of the mid-level clashes they did get on the slate, dropping games to Northeastern and Georgia State. A big win over Kentucky to begin SEC play is the Tide’s signature triumph this year, and is probably the difference between Alabama being in the field and on the bubble right now, but Alabama’s own profile does not make it a must-have pelt for Florida.

The Gators might be able to count a win over Alabama as a Quadrant I win for NCAA Tournament team sheet purposes, but only maybe: It really remains to be seen whether the Tide will stay high enough in the NET rankings for that to happen.

And so this is just a game that helps Florida a bit, not a lot, if it wins, and one that hurts Florida a bit, not a lot, if it loses.

The game could go either way, too, with Alabama obviously capable of both good and bad performances and Florida very much in the same boat. The Gators got a ton from their bench to hold off Vanderbilt earlier this week, but will obviously be hoping for more from KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke, who struggled mightily against the Commodores; Alabama, similarly, will hope that Kira Lewis and John Petty are on, and that Donta Hall can have his way inside against Kevarrius Hayes.

All outcomes are possible on this Saturday, and all of them move the needle in one direction or another for the Gators, though not that far.

Here’s hoping it bends toward good.