The Florida Gators seem pretty well attached to the No. 8 and No. 9 lines in NCAA Tournament bracketology at present.
While Florida began last week as a projected No. 9 seed, the Gators moved up to the No. 8 line in many projections as a result of their comprehensive win over LSU last Tuesday ... and then dropped back down to the No. 8 line thanks to a loss at Tennessee on Saturday.
Entering Wednesday, and without Tuesday’s results reflected in its component brackets, the Bracket Matrix has Florida as the highest No. 9 seed, both a significant distance behind St. Mary’s for the last No. 8 seed and not far ahead of Texas Tech at the No. 9 line.
Next Opponent: at Georgia, March 4
Given that, and the fact that Florida isn’t that far from the No. 10 line, is their game at Georgia on this Wednesday night one in which a loss might cost a seed line? I doubt it.
Georgia, despite having what could charitably be called an up-and-down year with top NBA prospect Anthony Edwards leading the way, is firmly stationed within the band of teams that play Quadrant II games at home and Quadrant III games on the road. At No. 84 in Wednesday’s NET rankings, Georgia’s not that far from the No. 1-75 swath that would make a road game in Athens a Q1 game, but is also in no danger of falling out of the band for Q2 road games (No. 76-135).
Florida doesn’t have an incredible record in Q2 games this year — thanks in large part to some of its Q2 contests sliding to Q1 or Q3 since — and it would obviously be better to win tonight than lose. But is a loss alone going to drop the Gators to the No. 10 line? Nah.
The Closest Competition
One of the reasons for that? One of the teams Florida would have to slide past to fall to the No. 10 line is Xavier, which Florida beat at a neutral site way back in November. While that’s not a formal tie-breaker or anything, it’s a safe bet that if Florida and Xavier have to be evaluated side-by-side, that win will help the Gators.
Even better for Florida is that another potential No. 10 seed as of today is Providence, which the Gators mauled in December at a neutral site a bit more favorable to the Friars in Brooklyn. While Florida’s win against Xavier was close enough that the Gators could conceivably still end up behind the Musketeers on a bracket, a neutral-site win as dominant as the Gators’ over the Friars would make it really hard to justify seeding Providence ahead of Florida, no matter what.
The trouble for Florida when it comes to getting back to the No. 8 line is that a win over Georgia, even on the road, isn’t going to move the needle, and the projected No. 8s have better chances to win big or helpful hiatuses from the court this week. Illinois (at Ohio State) and LSU (at Arkansas) could earn Q1 road wins, while Indiana could all but eliminate Minnesota from even vague NCAA Tournament contention and Saint Mary’s is off until the WCC Tournament.
If the Gators are going to do any leaping, it will probably be after a hypothetical home win over Kentucky or wins at the SEC Tournament. Winning tonight would be a huge step toward accomplishing the latter, though: Florida would be alone in fourth place in the league with a win, and thus in line to receive a double bye in Nashville.
With a loss? The Gators would be tied with Mississippi State and South Carolina for fourth, and would need to beat Kentucky and/or have the Bulldogs and Gamecocks fall to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on Saturday to end up with the No. 4 seed.