By Jake Sillick – OnlyGators.com bracketologist
Florida Gators basketball, after its loss to Vanderbilt, is now teetering on the bubble for the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Let’s take a look at how its numbers stack up now.
RPI: 42 | Nonconference RPI: 25 | SOS: 10 (+) | Nonconference SOS: 3 (+)
Road: 3-7 (-) | Neutral sites: 2-1 | Combined: 5-8 (-)
vs. Top 25: 2-5 (-) | vs. Top 50: 2-6 (-) | vs. Top 100: 7-10 (-)
Best wins road: No. 85 Ole Miss (-) | Neutral site: No. 25 Saint Joseph’s (+) | Home: No. 13 West Virginia (+)
Worst losses road: No. 117 Tennessee | Neutral: No. 21 Purdue | Home: No. 76 Florida State
KenPom: 44 | O-rating: 103 (-) | D-rating: 20 (+) | Sagarin Composite: 37
The Gators’ top-25 and top-50 records aren’t great, but Florida’s strength of schedule is very high. It will likely come down to what the committee decides to put more emphasis on. If it rates UF based on its SOS despite its poor record against those teams, the Gators could wind up with a 9 seed. If not, Florida would be squarely on the bubble with a 10-11 seed and possibly as far out as the First Four.
Here is where the Gators check in according to various bracketologists: Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): 10 seed (First Four), Joe Lunardi (ESPN): 9, Shelby Mast (USA TODAY): 9, Brad Evans (Yahoo! Sports): 11 (First Four).
Opportunities remaining (RPI): at LSU (90), vs. Kentucky (11), at Missouri (205) … plus a game or more in the SEC Tournament
The loss to Vanderbilt was a missed opportunity to add another quality win to the schedule, but it doesn’t count Florida out of the tournament yet. The LSU matchup this weekend is important in two resume aspects. It would be another top-100 RPI win, as well as another road win. Road games are more scrutinized by the committee, as games in the tournament are not played on any team’s home floor.
Barring an absolute collapse in the final three games of the season, making the semifinals or the final of the SEC Tournament would go a long way in securing an at-large bid at minimum for the Gators. Of course, winning the tournament would result in an automatic bid.
It would be easier if Florida finished in the top four of the SEC standings at the end of the year as it would result in a double bye for the Gators in the SEC Tournament. Beating LSU is important for this, as it would give UF a head-to-head advantage vs. the Tigers. However, Florida does not own head-to-head tiebreakers against Texas A&M, South Carolina or Vanderbilt. Those teams losing games to finish below the Gators would help in that regard as the SEC race is very close with Kentucky only one game up on the field and two games separating first through fifth place in the league.
The Gators currently sit in sixth place after tiebreakers are applied to the league standings. As of today, Florida would play Tennessee in the second round of the SEC Tournament with a potential matchup against Texas A&M should the Gators beat the Vols.