The Florida Gators will probably play basketball again this season after today’s second-round SEC Tournament matchup with Arkansas (1 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN), whether that’s in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament on Friday or in the NCAA Tournament or in the NIT.
But this game determines whether anyone will care about that next game, and may be the one that determines whether this season as a whole is a success.
Win this one against Arkansas, a similarly flawed team with zero chance of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection to Florida’s slim chance of doing so, and the Gators might have enough on their resume to make it into the field on Selection Sunday even with a Friday loss to LSU; at least, they’ll have another chance at knocking off the Tigers, which would surely secure passage to March Madness.
Lose, though, and Florida will be hoping against hope to make the Big Dance.
Those are the stakes, and everyone knows them. Arkansas, too, knows them, and surely has players on its roster who would love to effectively end Natural State native KeVaughn Allen’s collegiate career with a win on this day.
This one is going to be hard-fought, and it may not go Florida’s way.
But I sure hope it does.