When Florida fell to 0-3 in SEC play for the first time in decades, it was taken as an opportunity for some to shovel more dirt on the shallow grave that some have put the Gators in during their run of NCAA Tournament appearances, however brief. And when Colin Castleton was first ruled out of the Gators’ plans shortly afterward, things looked dire for the Gators’ chances of making another trip to March Madness.
No one has properly informed these Gators that they need to play dead, though — or if anyone has, they’re not listening. 6-2 since that 0-3 start to SEC play, 5-2 against SEC teams in that stretch, 5-2 without Castleton, and a rather stunning 3-0 since losing Jason Jitoboh for the season to go with Castleton’s injury, the Gators have made a recent habit of clambering out of holes, coming back for victories over Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Ole Miss in their last three games.
The problem? None of these wins is individually likely to move the needle with the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, and Florida dropping one game to Ole Miss in the midst of that run has probably wiped out much of the collective progress gained.
And Wednesday’s game against Georgia is little different. The 6-17 Bulldogs nearly upset Auburn last time out, and have improbable wins over Memphis and Alabama to their name, but Florida defending its home court against a team with zero wins outside of Athens in 2021-22 isn’t going to do anything to move the meter for the Gators, even if Tom Crean’s has shown slightly more life of late.
For Florida, which will have Castleton for the second straight game but may not play him for his full diet of minutes thanks to a nagging lower leg injury and a looming showdown with Kentucky, this game, like much of the last few weeks, is about holding serve.
And in sports as they exist in 2022, one unfortunate truth of holding serve is that you get no credit for doing it because you’re supposed to.