If the Florida Gators don’t go on a miraculous SEC Tournament run — and it would have to be miraculous, make no mistake — they will not be making the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
But if they don’t make it to .500 by season’s end, they may not make any other tournament, either — making games like Tuesday night’s at Georgia meaningful in marginal ways.
Florida would probably like to continue expanding Riley Kugel’s role and sweep the Dawgs, too, sure. Winning right now gives these Gators a chance to keep playing into the NIT, perhaps — which, in turn, helps with getting Kugel and Kowacie Reeves the touches they might want to see if they want to return in 2023-24.
And Georgia presents a rather movable object presently. While the Dawgs got a win over Kentucky a few weeks ago, that’s part of a 2-6 span in which the last four games are a close home win over moribund LSU and three straight obliterations by 49 (Alabama), 32 (Arkansas), and 32 (Missouri).
All of those squads will be in the NCAA Tournament, and Florida likely will not, but that sort of recent comprehensive futility would seem to be part of why Florida is actually a small road favorite on this night.
Florida’s own woes, especially its leaky defense, are why the Gators could very well still lose this one. If they want to close this season with wins, though, they have a chance.