The Florida Gators’ slim chances of making the 2022 NCAA Tournament really can’t get any better with a win over Georgia on Saturday. It’s just that a loss to the lowly Bulldogs would all but end them — making this game (noon, ESPN2) more of a can’t-lose than a must-win.
Fortunately for Florida, Georgia’s more like a can’t-win team at this point.
The Bulldogs got 33 points from budding star Kario Oquendo on Wednesday — and lost by 14 to Texas A&M, despite that explosion. They’ve lost all but one game since December 20 — when they handled mighty Western Carolina by six — and in that one win, a shocking upset of Alabama, the Bulldogs had to shoot 30 free throws, force 19 Crimson Tide turnovers, and watch the Tide miss 25 of 34 threes.
Georgia is 6-22, and the conventional wisdom has been that Tom Crean is as good as fired, with recent developments suggesting that the school may be sniffing for pretense to do so for cause. This is not a good basketball team; it’s also not one that is sailing smoothly to the end of its season.
And yet Georgia threw a scare into Florida in Gainesville, a late 10-0 run tightening up a game that the Gators could never make a true rout despite leading by double digits throughout. And Florida will play this game without Anthony Duruji, now nursing an ankle injury. And the Gators are coming off two emotional and high-effort outings against Auburn and Arkansas at home, and have struggled on the road this year.
But the simple fact — one every Gator knows — is that they need this one. And Georgia might put up a fight, but this is the rare team that Florida can fully outclass.
So it says here the Gators should try to do that.