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SEC Mid-Season Review

by Nick Evans | February 12th, 2008

How bad is the SEC? Entering conference play, many believed it to be the worst of the six major conferences. According to the overall RPI, the league hasn’t done much to prove that prediction incorrect. The SEC is fifth in the country in conference RPI, ahead of only the Big Ten.

However, just one week ago the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll included five SEC teams: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi State. That number exceeded every other conference in the country.

Tennessee is clearly the class of the SEC and is the only true hope for a Final Four appearance. The strength of this league will be determined by the likes of Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Florida, and a couple of other respectable squads. How many teams in the SEC have the ability to get to the dance and make a run at the Sweet Sixteen?

Get Your Dancin’ Shoes Ready

Tennessee (21-2, 8-1)
At 21-2, Tennessee is off to its best start in school history. Sure, an SEC regular season title would be nice. An SEC Tournament title would be even nicer. But what the Volunteers are most anxiously awaiting is the NCAA Tournament, because only there can they rid themselves of the bad taste in their mouth after losing to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Vols are deep, the Vols are quick, the Vols are athletic, and the Vols keep coming after you. They are relentless in their attack and play the same whether they are up fifteen, up five, or down eight. In the Vols offense there is no such thing as a bad shot.

While most pundits do not place Tennessee in the same spectrum as Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Duke, the Vols are eager to prove everyone wrong. Oh, and to those who heard Chris Lofton was having a down shooting year, well, he has found his stroke. Ever since eclipsing the SEC all-time record for three-pointers made, the senior has been on fire. In six ensuing games, Lofton has knocked down 30 threes and is shooting 53 percent.

The Volunteers have the ability to beat anyone in the country and will not be satisfied with anything less than a trip to the Final Four.

Big Games Left:
February 13 – Arkansas

February 23 – at Memphis

February 26 – at Vanderbilt

March 2 – Kentucky

March 5 – at Florida

On the Verge

Arkansas (17-5, 6-2)
The Razorbacks entered conference play on a two-game winning streak and then won their first two SEC games. After some struggles during non-conference play they appeared to finally be in that grove that coach John Pelphrey was waiting for. Arkansas then proceeded to lose to South Carolina and at Georgia. You just had to wonder if this talented team would click before it was too late.

Midway into conference play, the Hogs have finally clicked and Bud Walton Arena has been the scene. After easily handling Mississippi State and Florida, they took care of Ole Miss over the weekend. Now it is time to see if this team can win on the road with tough contests at Tennessee and Mississippi State coming up.

Arkansas is the only team in the SEC that can even begin to counter the depth of Tennessee. The Razorbacks are athletic, have the ability to throw a lot of guys at you, and can score in many different ways. If they can get consistently solid play down the stretch from their senior point guard Gary Ervin, the Hogs have the talent to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Big Games Left:
February 13 – at Tennessee

February 16 – at Mississippi State

February 23 – at Kentucky

March 1 – Vanderbilt

March 4 – at Ole Miss

Vanderbilt (20-4, 5-4)
The Commodores entered conference play undefeated but quickly realized that road victories in the SEC were not easy to come by. After losing their first four SEC contests away from home–all against quality opponents (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss)–Vandy finally got its first road victory at Georgia and then backed it up by squeaking one out at South Carolina.

Shan Foster is a legitimate player of the year candidate. If you give him even a centimeter of space he will find a way to knock the shot down.

Much of Vanderbilt’s struggles recently have been due to A.J. Ogilvy’s inability to adapt to life in the SEC. Ogilvy needs to become more comfortable and provide the ‘Dores with a weapon underneath.

Offensively this team is talented enough to make another run in the NCAA Tournament. That’s especially if Ogilvy regains the form he showed in pre-conference play.

Big Games Left:
February 12 – Kentucky

February 16 – Florida

February 26 – Tennessee

March 1 – at Arkansas

March 5 – Mississippi State

Florida (19-5, 6-3)
Billy Donovan eased his young Gator team into the college basketball scene with a less than dubious pre-conference schedule. Besides their showdown at home with Florida State and their road game at Ohio State (both losses), the Gators loaded their schedule with gimme after gimme.

Allowing his young team to gain confidence is proving ingenious as Florida is starting to mature. Nick Calathes is as underrated a freshman as there is in the country and he does everything for the Gators. Calathes is leading the SEC in assists at 6.8 per game. Marreese Speights is also proving to be a reliable source underneath in his sophomore campaign.

The Baby Gators are growing up fast and the country is starting to take notice. After two tough road losses (to Tennessee and Arkansas), they were able to regroup with a victory at home over a depleted Georgia squad. A road victory at Vanderbilt or Kentucky to finish off SEC play would send Florida into the post-season with serious momentum.

Big Games Left:
February 16 – at Vanderbilt

March 1 – Mississippi State

March 5 – Tennessee

March 9 – at Kentucky

Ole Miss (16-5, 3-5)
After their torrid start to the 2007-08 season, the Rebels have come back to earth after entering conference play. Mississippi has dropped four out of its last five games. Losses at home against South Carolina and on the road at Auburn may give reason for non-believers to overlook the hot start.

Offensively the Rebels have remained pretty solid. Dwayne Curtis has compiled a double-double in each of the last four losses. Chris Warren continues to be a consistent floor general that does a little bit of everything. However, on the defensive side of the ball, the Rebels’ youth has showed just a bit. In their last four losses opponents are shooting 49-percent from the field.

Still you must take notice that this team was able to go through non-conference play unblemished; not an easy task no matter the caliber of your opponents. In order to make the Dance, Andy Kennedy’s squad must turn up its defensive intensity now. The Rebels’ remaining schedule should give them an opportunity to do so as their toughest road test will be against Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

Big Games Left:
February 20 – Mississippi State

February 27 – at Kentucky

March 4 – Arkansas

Got Work to Do

Mississippi State (16-7, 7-2)
Starkville, Mississippi is the home of the 2008 Southeastern Conference block party. Jarvis Varnado, the nation’s leading shot-blocker at 4.8 swats per game, is hosting the festivities for the Bulldogs. His 111 blocks this season have already eclipsed the MSU single season mark of 106, set by Erick Dampier in 1995-96.

Shot blocking merely sets the tone for a Bulldog defense that is solid in all facets of the game. The unit leads the SEC in field-goal percentage defense (.363) and scoring defense (63.0 ppg). Mississippi State has held seven of its nine conference opponents to less than 40-percent shooting from the field.

After a slow start in non-conference play, Rick Stansbury’s squad has turned to its stingy defense and its do-it-all point guard, Jamont Gordon. At 6-4 and 250 pounds, Gordon looks the part of a linebacker more than he does point guard, but the entire Mississippi State offense goes through him. He is a matchup nightmare and is playing like the SEC Player of the Year.

Big Games Left:
February 16 – Arkansas

February 20 – at Ole Miss

March 1 – at Florida

March 5 – at Vanderbilt

Kentucky (12-9, 6-2)
Considered down and out at the start of SEC play, these Cats are trying to prove to the selection committee that they have more than nine lives. Kentucky has won five in a row and is only one game back of the Volunteers, a team the Wildcats defeated at Rupp Arena earlier this season.

Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford finally appear to have bitten into Billy Gillispie’s system and the new head coach has realized that these two need to be on the court for the Cats to be successful. Injuries are still a concern for Kentucky. Crawford has struggled with planter fasciitis and Bradley with a concussion and viral infection. The Cats have also been without Jodie Meeks, who is suffering from a hip injury, for the last three games.

Kentucky must keep slip-ups at a minimum if it hopes to dance at the end of the year. If the Wildcats can hold serve at home, finish .500 on the road and then make a run in the SEC Tournament, they will make a case. Will the committee be able to overlook inexplicable loses at home to Gardner-Webb and San Diego?

Big Games Left:
February 12 – at Vanderbilt

February 23 – Arkansas

February 27 – Ole Miss

March 2 – at Tennessee

March 9 – Florida

Out!

South Carolina (11-11, 3-5)
Devan Downey has been the lone bright spot for the Gamecocks in the The Professor’s (Dave Odom) swan song. At 5’9” tall, Downey is a scoring threat from anywhere on the court and is as exciting a player to watch as there is in the SEC.

Alabama (13-11, 2-7)
How good could this team be with a healthy Ronald Steele? Mike Gottefried has found it impossible to fill Steele’s shoes at point and can’t wait to find out. The Tide bring everyone back in 2008-09 and hope to compete for an SEC West title.

Georgia (11-10, 2-6)
At the midway point the Bulldogs have more arrests than they do SEC victories. I’m guessing this is not how Dennis Felton envisioned his fifth season in Athens.

Auburn (12-10, 2-7)
The Tigers play extremely hard for head coach Jeff Lebo, but it is usually difficult to find success when you struggle from both beyond the arc and in the post. They only go six deep so weary legs will most likely be an issue as they continue down the stretch.

LSU (8-14, 1-7)
Two years removed from a Final Four appearance, LSU canned head coach John Brady last week. Injuries and a lack of a true point guard led to Brady’s demise. Interim head coach Butch Pierre will ride newcomers Marcus Thornton and Anthony Randolph as much as he can. But these Tigers are just bad.

SEC Player of the Year Candidates
Jamont Gordon, G, Mississippi State (18.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.7 APG)

Shan Foster, G, Vanderbilt (18.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG)

Richard Hendrix, F, Alabama (19.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.2 BPG)

Devan Downey, G, South Carolina (19.4 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.3 SPG)

Tyler Smith, G, Tennessee (13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.7 APG)

Notables: Chris Lofton (Tennessee), JuJuan Smith (Tennessee), Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Ramel Bradley (Kentucky), Marcus Thornton (LSU), Sonny Weems (Arkansas), Marreese Speights (Florida), Nick Calathes (Florida)

SEC Rookie of the Year Candidates
Patrick Patterson, F (Kentucky) 16.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG

Nick Calathes, G (Florida) 15.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, 5.0 RPG

Chris Warren, G (Ole Miss) 16.4 PPG, 5.1 APG

A.J. Ogilvy, C (Vanderbilt) 17.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG

Anthony Randolph, F (LSU) 13.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.4 BPG

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44 Responses to “SEC Mid-Season Review”  

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  1. JAY BIRD - HOG FAN Says:

    I hope Downey and Warren go Pro.

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  2. SoupDeJour Says:

    hmm, so ole miss with 16 wins and at 3-5 in conference play is on the verge, but the state bulldogs with 16 wins and at 7-2 in conference play have work to do??

    Unfortunutly the Cats ninth life just got skinned. : – (

    My favorite review is of Georgia. Great writing, short, to the point, effective, HILARIOUS!!!!!! ROLF!!!!!

    And next time I see you have posted an article, i’ll be sure to hunt down my thesaurus before sitting down to read it….. pundits? spectrum? great verbage sir, well done.

    Also here’s hoping Varnado follows in Erick “At one time the best center in the association” Dampier’s footsteps…….

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  3. Dirk Says:

    Amazing. Need I say more? Mr. Evans has done it again. It has truly been an honor to watch this young man morph from a wee tyke with boatloads of potential into the literary juggernaut that he has become. That is, in and of itself a tremendous feat, but what is truly earthshattering is the classy manner in which Nicholas has conducted himself, while so skillfully avoiding the tremendous pitfalls of the talented youth of his era. Some sad and notable examples of the dangerous and immense pull that drugs, alcohol, rock and roll, and prostitution exhibit upon the talented youth of today that immediately spring to mind are Chris Farley and Heath Ledger.
    In short, Nick Evans, I applaud you. Thank you yet again for inspiring in us the kind of healthy awe that is so rarely seen in this modern Sodom and Gomorrah that we find ourselves in. I look forward to watching you grow and develop further into the learned and literate genius that you have shown yourself to be time and again. Well done, Mr. Evans. Well done.

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  4. Chuck Norris Says:

    Pewlitzer…or maybe Pullitserr. Thats how I used to spell it. After reading this article, its apparent to me that its spelled N-I-C-K-E-V-A-N-S.

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  5. James Says:

    Dirk,

    Your comments are a joke if you don’t cite examples of what you disagree with. Don’t hate on the opinions of others if you are too afraid to offer your own.

    You are worthless at best and your comments are even more worthless.

    Now say something worthwhile and related to the college basketball discussion or SHUT THE HELL UP.

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  6. John Says:

    @ James. He has the right to say what he wants. He should make a comment or two about college basketball, but he was merely complimenting the writer.

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  7. Dirk Says:

    I was not trying to be sarcastic, I absolutely love this guy. I sincerely apologize to all you out there who took my previous comment inappropriately, particularly you, James. I hope we can be friends in the future and maybe hang out…I don’t know, maybe a barbeque or possibly some good times at Chuck-E-Cheese’s together. I’ll leave the details up to you, but I am definitely interested in getting to know you better. Get back to me ASAP.

    Nick, I still love your stuff.

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  8. mockingbird(have you heard?) Says:

    Mr.Evans, you do have a way of expressing words and stats that sends chills down my quivering spine..ooohhh…poor LSU.. if only the “pistol” were around, he would spat upon that 3 point line. No 3 point line, NO PROBLEM. still averaging 44pts a game with the tigers…
    Pete Maravich:”you want me to spin the ball on my finger for an hour” CHECK
    Pete Maravich:”you want me to change the way basketball is played” CHECK
    Pete Maravich:”you want me to break your nose with an unexpected pass”
    CHECK (he should have been looking)
    Pete Maravich:”you want me to feed you a behind the back pass while looking
    the other way” CHECK

    I could go on for days and days here. My point is simply this…Pete Maravich is quite frankly the Chuck Norris of Hall of Fame Basketball, for goodness sake his nickname is PISTOL PETE.

    Anyway, I love Chuck-E-Cheese and would love to join you Dirk and James (if James excepts the gesture) for some ski-ball maybe some good ol’ hoops or just a quick swim in the ball pit. Where else can you get dinner, a show and GAMES??

    P.S. James…you are homosexual

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  9. John Says:

    @ everybody. We should cut this out and stick to hoops.

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  10. mockingbird(have you heard?) Says:

    WHAT…stick to hoops…

    Pete Maravich is HOOPS….

    John, are you jealous that you were not invited to chuck-e-cheese???
    if you want to come too, I suppose 4 is not a crowd. but dont get to excited it is not a date but feel free to invite your boyfriend..

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  11. John Says:

    @ mockingbird. Obviously you are showing your immaturity as you do not realize I have a girlfriend, but I won’t mention her name(that’s OK, I wouldn’t mention her name in your presence.)

    You can go to CHUCKY-Cheese without me. I’m not keen on places for little kids(have fun though.)

    And as for why we are here: I realize Pistol Pete was hoops. He was also flair. And scoring. But my team(Florida) has what Pete doesn’t: Back-to-Back National Championships.

    I’m done with this, except commenting on hoops.

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  12. Joe Says:

    I don’t care who you are, Florida is finished losing to LSU AT HOME. It should never happen to a legit tournament team. Even Washington (9th in Pac-10) destroyed LSU in Baton Rouge. Florida needs to win the conference tournament to get a birth.

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  13. SoupDeJour Says:

    Why the RPI is absurd: KY loses by 41 to Vandy but moves UP two spots…. If I was a head coach these days I’d just schedule every game on the road. Then even if I went 0 – 32 I’d still get in the tourney based on my solid RPI.

    As far as the gators go, a devastating blow last night. however, they will still finish with 20+ wins and single digit losses and a .500 or better record in the SEC. Two time defending national champeens….still in the tourney.

    James, first of all your post makes no sense. Dirky wasn’t disagreeing with anything Mr. Evans said. He was applauding it. Learn how to read please.

    and finally @ Johnny Five, i have defended your gators from day one and now I will defend you. Don’t worry, take solace, i will vouch for you, you do have a girlfriend. And she really knows how to take it ‘backdoor’……..

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  14. John Says:

    @ Joe. Oh we will win the SEC Tournament. We still get in based on a 21-8 or 20-9 record and above .500 in the SEC. Washington is a bad example. They lost to Syracuse and Syracuse lost to SOUTH FLORIDA. I wonder what team you root for because I thought I saw you post a comment about how it would be ridiculous if the Pac-10 and SEC got the same number of bids. Texas(3rd in the Big 12) WON AT UCLA. Stanford(2nd in the Pac-10) LOST AT SIENA(although the Saints are pretty good.) USC LOST TO MERCER AT HOME. On the other hand, Tennessee WON at Xavier(ranked 14th), Mississippi defeated Clemson, Arkansas defeated VCU(1st in the CAA.) you used the RPI as an example: The RPI is severly outdated.

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  15. Joe Says:

    @ John

    Here’s a great comparison in RPI for two middle of the road teams in the SEC and Pac-10

    -Arizona-
    Northern Arizona (W)
    Virginia (L)
    UM-KC (W)
    Adams State (W)
    @ Kansas (L)
    Cal-State Fullerton (W)
    Texas A&M (W)
    vs Illinois in Chicago (W)
    Fresno State (W)
    UNLV (W)
    San Diego State (W)
    @ Memphis (L)
    @ Houston (W)
    & Rest of the Pac-10 (only easy games is Oregon State twice)

    -Florida-
    Flagler
    Lynn
    North Dakota State
    Tennessee Tech
    North Carolina Central
    Rutgers
    North Florida
    Florida State (L)
    Stetson
    @ Vermont
    Jacksonville
    Florida A&M
    @ Georgia Southern
    Charleston Southern
    @ Ohio State (L)
    @ Temple
    High Point
    & Rest of SEC

    RPI and SOS should matter. If Arizona played Florida’s schedule this year they would have a very good chance of being undefeated.

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  16. John Says:

    @ Joe. As much of a die-hard Florida fan that I am, the schedule is weak. However, the only reason the schedule is that way is because of the fact it is a young team. Let’s look at some wins that the SEC has achieved this year:

    Arkansas defeated VCU, Oral Roberts, Baylor
    Mississippi defeated South Alabama, New Mexico, Clemson
    Alabama defeated Mercer(a team that USC lost to AT HOME)

    Not to mention Tennessee defeated Temple, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, N.C.-Asheville, Xavier and Gonzaga.

    A few other points:

    Good losses don’t count. I am tired of hearing that a close loss is almost as good as a win. It’s still a loss and doesn’t count for anything else.

    There are a lot of mid-majors out there that are really good that you don’t know about. We’ve all seen and heard about South Alabama, Kent State, VCU, George Mason, Butler, Drake and Saint Mary’s. But the following teams have 18-20 wins:

    IUPUI
    Robert Morris
    Stephen F. Austin

    I hope you look at a profile of these teams and agree that these are quality teams.

    Florida’s results and reputation precedes Arizona. The Gators are 2-time reigning National Champions and need only 2 wins to set the all-time NCAA Tournament record for consecutive wins(14). Arizona has had famous flameouts to East Tennessee State and Miami-Ohio to name just a couple.

    You must be an Arizona fan.

    Will all this being said, however, I think the Pac-10 has 3 legitimate Final Four contenders(UCLA, Stanford, Washington State.) The rest is a mystery.

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  17. Joe Says:

    @ John

    “Florida’s results and reputation precedes Arizona. The Gators are 2-time reigning National Champions and need only 2 wins to set the all-time NCAA Tournament record for consecutive wins(14). Arizona has had famous flameouts to East Tennessee State and Miami-Ohio to name just a couple.”

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Arizona has been to the tournament for 23 consecutive years, the longest active streak and counting. Also, Arizona has countless regular season and tournament championships under it’s belt; Final Fours (4), Tournament champion (4), Conference champions (20, 10 in Pac-10). Our rival is UCLA for basketball it has been an established rivalry for a couple of decades. Most people acknowledge Arizona vs. UCLA to be Duke vs. UNC out West. we also are known to be a basketball factory for the NBA.

    Notable alumni from Arizona playing in the NBA
    - Gilbert Arenas
    - Mike Bibby
    - Channing Frye
    - Andre Iguodala
    - Richard Jefferson
    - Damon Stoudamire
    - Salim Stoudamire
    - Jason Terry
    - Luke Walton

    Former Cats
    - Sean Elliott
    - Steve Kerr (now Suns GM)
    - Kenny Lofton (went on to MLB)

    ———————————————————————-

    Now lets see Florida’s basketball history. Other than what you have stated, Florida doesn’t even hold water to Arizona. Says nothing about matching Arizona’s 23 years in a row and counting. It does not say anything about having a rival in basketball. You could say that Florida doesn’t even exist in basketball until 1989, their first conference title.

    Conference champions (4), Tournament champions (3), Final Fours (4)

    Notable NBA alumni for Florida have all been from this decade. The most notable is Jason Williams. Your 2006-2007 team has not been in the NBA long enough to make any notable achievements.

    UK has dominated the SEC for so long they haven’t established any rivals in conference. Big deal Florida had two good years. But that’s it.

    ———————————————————

    You just made a fool out of yourself. But you’re an SEC fan, the only ones that know about basketball are UK fans. Since they are the only team in that league that has any established tradition.

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  18. John Says:

    @ Joe. I know a lot more than you give me credit for. Our rival is Kentucky. We became the first team in SEC HISTORY to defeat them 7 consecutive times. In recent years, Arizona has looked bad against your ”so called” rival UCLA(does 82-60 ring a bell?) And Kenny Lofton does not count seeing as how he played BASEBALL. If you want to count alumni from other sports, than let’s have a look at Florida’s history:

    Emmitt Smith(NFL’s all-time leading rusher.)
    David Eckstein(2006 World Series MVP)
    Steve Spurrier(1966 Heisman Trophy Winner)

    But sticking to hoops, i’m not trying to minimize Arizona’s accomplishments, but which program has more championships?

    Florida 2(2006, 2007)
    Arizona 1(1997)

    You can’t just wipe away those 1st round losses. I would find it interesting if Florida played Arizona in the tournament seeing as how you root for the Wildcats and I root for the Gators. And some of the players you listed(Walton, etc.) are role players. I respect your knowledge of this sport and I would hope you’d respect mine as well(whether you want to admit it or not.) And one final thing: January 17, 2008 Arizona at Stanford: Ted Robinson on FSN states that Arizona-STANFORD, not Arizona-UCLA was THE rivalry in the Pac-10 until UCLA became good again.

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  19. SoupDeJour Says:

    @ John –

    it seems i’ve been wrong all along, the gators will get crushed by the Cats on Senior Day and then they can play for a third straight championship in the NIT.

    I’ll never bet on Arizona again after Santa Clara and that ’97 bull.

    And just so you both can have a qualified opinion on your argument, Arizona is far and away the superior PROGRAM in college hoops. Florida’s got some mo, but it’s gonna take another decade or so of Billy D to even be able to begin to compare themselves with Arizona.

    Oh, big gulps huh? All right! Well, see ya later!

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  20. John Says:

    @ SoupDeJour. My computer does not allow me to copy and paste so I did nothing of the sort. Besides, without a way to log on to your computer I can’t copy and paste. Leave my girlfriend out of this. True Gators fans don’t bail because I say things. All i’m saying is that I think Arizona is overrated once they get to the tournament. Do we have to go into the recent history?

    2004 1st Round loss to Seton Hall
    2005 Regional Final meltdown to Illinois
    2007 1st round loss to Purdue

    I don’t include 1993 vs Santa Clara because I enjoyed that one(though I doubt Joe will respond to my last comment from him.)

    We all have different opinions and that’s what makes this fun. But name-calling is not called for, and respect(only from Joe) should be given, since he’s the only one doesn’t give it.

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  21. SoupDeJour Says:

    SoupDeJour’s post Feb 14, 6:38am:
    “Why the RPI is absurd: KY loses by 41 to Vandy but moves UP two spots…blahblahblah…..As far as the gators go….they will still finish with 20+ wins and single digit losses and a .500 or better record in the SEC. Two time defending national champeens….still in the tourney.”

    John’s post Feb 14, 10:05am:
    “We still get in based on a 21-8 or 20-9 record and above .500 in the SEC.
    you used the RPI as an example: The RPI is severly outdated.”

    Just like in college you gotta switch the verbage around a lil bit. Copy and paste was a euphism…..

    Anyhow, all that aside, I really did not mean to strike a chord in the depths of your hearts. I am sorry for hurting your feelings so poorly by calling you a twerp.

    Arizona does choke come tournament time.

    My my my Mr. Evans sure does know how to strike a chord amongst Bracket Nation…. 20 posts only TWO days in!!! I bet the four-letter-network will come calling anyday to lure him away….and hopefully he will remain loyal to us faithful bracketography readers.

    \

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  22. Dirk Says:

    To Soupy:

    While I realize that your name is a clever play on a great line in a legendary movie, it is by far the most clever thing you’ve come up with in probably your 45 miserable years living in your parents’ basement. The one thing I want to stress is that your beloved ‘Cats, who are by the way struggling to keep just this side of a .500 season have nothing on MSU-the nations sweethearts. Who else has a freshman come in and put up 20 amazing points after coming back from an injury against an always tough Purdue team (yes, it was a loss, but Neitzel and Morgan, their top two scorers were posting 0′s in the pts. column at the half). Who else dominates so consistently year after year in arguably the best group of teams in college ball, while keeping an incredibly difficult schedule EVERY YEAR.

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  23. Joe Says:

    @ John

    I listed only basketball players at Arizona. Kenny Lofton played basketball at Arizona, before he went on to play in the MLB.

    Good thing you can list all famous alumni other sports. I did not. Since I only stuck on basketball. Arizona-Stanford was the rivalry in the ’90′s for the Pac-10.

    I’m glad that recent history is only what Florida fans know.

    Overrated is losing to the worst team in the your league that our 9th place team killed them at their place. Since all you have got is recent history. Enjoy the NIT, while we enjoy our annual invitation to the Dance.

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  24. John Says:

    @ Dirk. While I do agree that Kentucky is not going to make the tournament, let’s set a few things straight:

    A. The Big Ten DOES NOT have the best ” group of teams” in the country. That would be(and how ironic is this coming from me?) the Pac-10.

    B. You kinda halfwayed it with that whole ”a close loss is like a win” thing. Yes I saw that game and Michigan State valiantly fought. IT’S STILL A LOSS!

    C. That ”tough schedule” you talk about includes Chicago State, Louisiana Monroe, IPFW, San Jose State, and Oakland(Mich.)

    D. When did Michigan State become America’s Sweethearts

    That being said, the Spartans certainly should exceed the 2nd Round showing from last year and your post was clever.

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  25. John Says:

    @ Joe. Boy I wish that Arizona would have beaten Purdue last year, then we would have ended this debate once and for all. I never meant for this to be about Florida vs Arizona. I meant for this to be about the SEC vs the Pac-10(look at your very first post on here). While I think Bruce Pearl can be a major annoyance, his team could win by double digits in any arena in the Pac-10. Let’s set this straight once and for all: I am not trying to pick on Arizona. This was NEVER meant to be about them, but it’s not about making the tournament 23 years in a row. It’s about what you do once you get there. They have choked many times before(the exceptions being 1994, 1997 and 2001.) I’ll begrudingly agree that our basketball program did not take off until 1989, but yet we have more championships in those 19 years(2) then you do in your 23 years(1). I only see 2 wins left on your schedule(@ Washington, @ Oregon State.) 8-10, 17-13 plus a 1st round or even 2nd round loss in the Pac-10 Tournament won’t be enough. Florida defeated a ranked team(Vanderbilt) in the conference. Arizona has not. Facts are facts and Arizona has early NCAA exits on their resume. (I wasn’t aware Washington winning 73-65 was killing LSU.) Let this be the last post about this issue as I wish your Wildcats good luck and I would hope you can do the same for my 2-time defending National Champion Gators.

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  26. John Says:

    One thing i forgot to mention @ Joe is that Arizona lost also to a last place team AT HOME. Virginia.

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  27. Joe Says:

    @ John

    So you’re telling me that Washington State is not a ranked team? Also Texas A&M was in the top 10 when Arizona defeated them. Arizona defeated #6 Washington State (76-64), that would qualify as a ranked opponent. They also have a win over #9 Texas A&M (78-67).

    Arizona at 8-10 in the Pac-10 and an early exit in the Pac-10 tournament is still guaranteed a birth, it’s called RPI and SOS.

    The fact is our 2nd worst team (Washington) beat LSU in Baton Rouge by 8 points. Something Tennessee could only do by 2 and Florida could not even beat LSU. Tennessee would never win at Pac-10 arenas by double digits. They do unload on SEC cupcakes. We’ll see how good Tennessee is against Memphis too. Since Arizona (2 players missing) and USC have been the closest teams to defeating Memphis.

    Better to be playing a team like Virginia (ACC), than half of the schools I haven’t heard of on Florida’s non-conference schedule.

    I will enjoy Cats tournament birth, good luck in and enjoy the NIT.

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  28. John Says:

    @ Joe. I meant out of conference(which was clearly stated.) You started this by comparing ”bubble teams” from the Pac-10 and SEC and made it about Arizona and Florida when I only wanted to talk about the conferences as a whole. Being 2-time reigining National Champions is good enough to get us in the tournament(provided we don’t lose out.) I try to compliment your team and give them credit and you act like a lowlife and relegate us to the NIT? We did defeat Vanderbilt and an 18 win Georgia Southern team. If you can’t type with class, don’t type at all. And who has heard of Adams State?

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  29. Chase Budinger Says:

    @ both Joe and John. OK guys calm down. We have played a more difficult schedule than Florida, but Joe what you fail to mention is that Florida is a young team and had to schedule that way to perform their best this year. They do have some good players like Calathes and Speights. We fortunately have myself and Jerryd to counter with. You can’t knock them cause they have won the last 2 National Championships, but I think we could beat them easily. They will make the NCAA’s so no more NIT talk OK?(And no excuses for 2 players being out at Memphis, they would have beaten us even if those guys played.) Now to John. You cannot question our history after we have made 23 NCAA Tournaments in a row. We’ve been playing longer than Florida at this high level and we have sent countless players to the NBA. No SEC team could come into any Pac-10 arena(inculding Oregon State) and win by double digits. Don’t call anyone a lowlife OK man? It’s only a game. With that being said, we have had our struggles but I think we have come back nicely. Don’t criticize our team or our schedule. Well, if Coach O’Neill saw me on here, i’d probably not start(curfew issue) so i’ll go with this: It seems to me from both of your comments at each other that you really want to see the two teams play. Just root for your teams, no more silly comments at each other and for the sake of me(@ Joe) and for those young guys at Florida(@ John) just be respectful towards each other. Well wish us luck at Maples tommorrow.

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  30. Joe Says:

    @ John

    Good luck with your Gators the rest of the way.

    @ Chase

    You played at Maples earlier in the year. The game tomorrow is at McKale, I hope that comment was a Freudian slip. Go Wildcats and Bear Down!

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  31. John Says:

    @ Joe. Good luck to your Wildcats the rest of the season.

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  32. David Mihm Says:

    Hey guys, let’s try to keep the comments a little more positive and less personal in the future.

    Here’s my take on both the Gators and Wildcats (Tucson variety):

    Florida’s non-conference schedule means they need a fantastic finish in the SEC; at least 12-4 to feel completely safe. I’ve written earlier that I do not think the Gators will be around to defend their title in March. The home loss to LSU is indeed very damaging. Florida desperately needs a good road win, and @ Vandy or @ Kentucky would qualify.

    Arizona’s non-conference schedule, and the depth of the Pac-10, means the ‘Cats only need a .500 record in conference to make the Tournament.

    The Committee truly does ignore previous Tournament performance and the “name” of the school. Syracuse’s omission from the field last year alone should be enough to hammer that point home.

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  33. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. I won’t get into too much detail because I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but you CANNOT under any circumstances call an over and back violation with 18 or 19 seconds to go simply because this is the last possession of the game and it will decide the outcome. It’s much the same as the foul that was called on Corey Fisher of Villanova on Monday night at Georgetown. If we miss the tournament, that call could be why. However, the way I see it is that we are capable of winning every game left on the schedule with the exception of Tennessee. At 10-6 in the SEC and 23-10 overall entering the SEC Tournament, I think that is good enough.

    Joe Lunardi made the comment after the game that Florida’s resume might not be one of the 34 best at-large’s, but talent wise, we are. What do you make of that comment?

    I know it’s not much to hang my hat on, but is it also true that the good opponents you beat, you want them to do well the rest of the season?(Georgia Southern 18 wins currently. If they win the Southern Conference tournament, that might help a little considering they will probably have to beat Davidson to do it?)

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  34. Dex Says:

    It’s one of my favorite movies of all time and I like to quote it a little myself, but someone who is that obsessed with Dumb and Dumber needs to get a life. Also, Florida is a better team than Arizona. As good as the PAC-10 is overall, there are some really solid teams in the SEC. And after losing nearly all of their key players who won them 2 championships in a row, and having the season they have had with 7 freshman, 3 sophomores, 2 juniors, and no seniors is pretty amazing to me. Arizona, in my opinion, is usually overrated and receives too much credit for what they actually accomplish. This has gotten too personal and immature after reading all of the comments, but I got your back John.

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  35. John Says:

    @ Dex. Thank you.

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  36. David Mihm Says:

    @John, I might agree with Joe on that one. If you’re looking for a scapegoat, it might be Billy Donovan for not playing at least a mediocre non-conference schedule, as great an on-the-floor coaching job as he has done this year!

    Even one Top 50 win out-of-conference would make me feel a lot better about putting the Gators in at 10-6. They’re about 50/50 right now, without a marquee scalp away from the O-Dome…

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  37. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. The RPI is a complete joke. Explain to me how Kentucky loses by 41 at Vanderbilt and MOVES UP 2 spots. However, are we supposed to ignore the fact Florida beat a team that most likely will win between 22 and 24 games, but won’t play in the NCAA Tournament because they play in the same conference as Davidson?

    We do have a Top 50 win
    vs Vanderbilt(RPI 11 according to Collegerpi.com)

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  38. John Says:

    Oh. out of conference. Well, these schedules are made up years in advance, can you expect this inexperienced team to win a non-conference game vs 1 Top 50 team?

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  39. Nick Evans Says:

    Not sure how this turned into a Florida vs. Arizona rant. Anyways.

    @John. You have to make that over-and-back call…even with 19 seconds left. Unfortunately, for the Gators it may cost them the tournament. To put the Gators in good position they now need to win four out of their last five SEC games. With homes games against Mississippi State and Tennessee and a road contest at Rupp still on the docket it is not going to be an easy task. This would leave them at 23-8, 10-6 entering SEC Tournament play. The game at Rupp is their last chance to put a decent road win on their resume. A road win they desperately need.

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  40. John Says:

    @ Nick Evans. I’m finally glad you commented on this(considering you wrote the article.) Read the comments on here(and i think there might be a couple in the Kentucky Creeps Into The Bracket Discussion section.) and you’ll know how this turned into a Florida vs Arizona rant. Anyhow, you are right about winning four of the last five and i’d be more worried about the Mississippi State game than the Tennessee game if it was in Starkville, but it is(fortunately) in the O-Dome. I know they are not a great team and it is not a Top 50 win, but answer this question for me: If Georgia Southern wins between 24 and 26 games(counting the Southern Conference Tournament) and loses in the final to Davidson, are we supposed to ignore this win?(at a neutral site, I might add.)

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  41. Nick Evans Says:

    @John. No one is ignoring the Georgia Southern win. But, if you’re looking for a win against Georgia Southern to get you over the hump and into the tournament I think you’re reaching a bit.

    The bottom line is the Gators lack a definitive road victory.

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  42. John Says:

    @ Nick Evans. I am not trying to say that the Georgia Southern win puts us over the top. What I am saying is that sometimes we undervalue the wins against good mid-major schools. I look at some other teams that are supposedly locks and question their inclusion into the field. One example includes:

    Ohio State
    Best Wins: vs Syracuse, @ Cleveland State, Florida
    Bad Losses: @ Iowa, @ Michigan
    Marquee Games: @ Butler(L), North Carolina(L) and 0 wins vs the 4 Big Ten teams ahead of them.

    There are other examples that I can bring up, but for lack of research on my part, I won’t. I understand they are very close to making it, and that if certain teams(Cal, Oregon) lose and they win at Georgia(the only game they play this week), they’ll be in. My only argument is that after you lose all 5 starters plus Chris Richard, can this team be judged the same as in past years? It should be judged to different standards. Finally, how good do you think Nick Calathes will be? I say best point guard in the SEC by his junior year.

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  43. Brian Says:

    if we want look at how you think the Georgia Southern win is not pulling its weight… maybe you should look why b/c it is getting dragged down by all the teams you played to get your first 12 wins. You only played three teams from major conferences one which you lost to. Florida State.

    The teams include Rutgers who is last place 2-12
    Charles Southern Last place
    North Flordia 0-12 2-23 (are you kidding me?!?!)
    North Carolina Central Eagles (is that made up) 3-23
    North Dakota State first time in Division one
    Florida A&M has lost by more then 30 like ten times come on!!
    Stetson Hatters? did you play them b/c they have a cool nickname
    Jac Dolphins come on!!

    You lost to Ohio State who might not even make the tourney if they struggle down the stretch!

    Now to conference you have a 22 point loss to Tenn and 19 to the razorbacks and a HORRIBLE LOSS TO LSU!! How do you explain that one. You have two road wins on the year one against a team that doesn’t have steele and another one who is in the bottom half of the conference.

    So why you want to count Georgia Southern as a good win you have to realize, for one that it isn’t that great. It just looks like Duke compared to the crap schedule you played before them

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  44. David Mihm Says:

    OK, after the last comment by Brian, I am closing comments on this article. Brian, there is just no reason to get personal.

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