There are only a few weeks remaining in the college basketball season meaning the time has come.
We’ve got to talk Bracketology.
Florida’s season has had ups and downs, and where exactly they stand in terms of NCAA Tournament seeding has been made much more difficult by the fact that due to COVID teams have played drastically less non-conference games and in most cases, various numbers of total games.
With Florida having three or four (more on that later) regular season games remaining, knowing where they stand can help frame the level of desperation with these final contests.
A lot of people have one or two bracketologists they particularly trust and like to go to see where teams sit, but instead of putting total faith in the calculations of one bracketologist something that can be a safer way of viewing things is looking at Bracket Matrix. Bracket Matrix is a composite of 103 of the top bracketologists, so it gives a large sample size of brackets to give a likely look at where teams sit by eliminating outliers.
So, without further adieu…
Florida is the lowest 8th seed according to Bracket Matrix.
That number likely won’t surprise you, as watching this team it’s probably about where you expected based on their quality of play and their resume.
Does this put them anywhere near the bubble? Potentially, and I might venture to say they’re closer to the bubble than some others who have claimed Florida is comfortably in the Tournament.
According to Bracket Matrix, there are 11 teams below Florida that will still get at-large bids. So, simply put, they are 11 spots above the cut line. Which, if true, does put the Gators in a fairly comfortable spot.
While I still am going to default to bracket matrix because the composite method is probably the most accurate way to get a read, it’s interesting to see that some of the big names in Bracketology, who are historically the most accurate, have Florida lower than the lowest 8 seed. If you look at the bracketologists that were in the 90th percentile of accuracy last season and make a composite of their brackets, Florida is actually the lowest 9 seed. And, several of them have Florida as a 10. That would put them much closer to the bubble than consensus.
Let’s talk NET Ranking. This is the NCAA’s official sorting tool, so in a lot of ways it’s the only number that really matters.
Florida is currently 30th in the NET. It’s worth noting that in the past two years since they started the NET, high major teams that have ranked 27th and 33rd have missed the NCAA Tournament. So, 30th SHOULD be good enough to get the Gators into The Dance, but it definitely shows they are far from comfortable.
Something pretty interesting is that a lot of popular predictive analytic metrics that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee looks like are all over the place when it comes to their view of Florida. KenPom has them 31st, while Sagarin and BPI both have them 29th. Barttorvik is right with the NET at 30th, while Haslametrics sees them as 42nd. Evan Miya, one of the recent metrics that a lot of college basketball analysts and bettors alike have come to love, has Florida 24th.
Needless to say, the metrics are about as confused by the Gators as a lot of people that are watching them.
Something that could be concerning is the fact that Florida’s remaining games and the NET ranking of those teams are Auburn (71st), Kentucky (64th), and Missouri (37th). That means that the Gators don’t really have great chances at moving up in the NET unless they blow out these games (the NET factors in efficiency and margin of victory), but they have plenty of chances to drop further if they lose any of these. None of these would be devastating losses (barring a blowout) but they would still be opportunities for the Gators to drop. And, considering their 30th ranking in the NET, they don’t have much room for comfort when it comes to dropping.
What will be of utmost importance to the Gators is the one game they will likely have rescheduled by the SEC to end the regular season. The SEC, knowing that there was almost certainly going to be cancellations and postponements for every team in the league, kept one date open to make up a game at the end of the regular season slate.
When Florida went into their recent pause they missed games against LSU, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.
Here is the thing–the SEC hasn’t yet said what process they will use in deciding what games will be rescheduled.
That means that Florida might have a really good quality game against LSU or Tennessee, one that could give them a chance at boosting their NCAA Tournament resume, or they could play a game against Texas A&M that would offer them very little chance at helping their resume while also offering a chance at a bad loss that could sink them.
Sadly, the game against Texas A&M might be the most likely. This is because Florida has already played LSU and Tennessee once this season, and the SEC might schedule Texas A&M for Florida to make sure that everyone in the league plays each other at least. That would make logical sense for the league, though it would be far from what the Gators would want.
Additionally, who knows if Texas A&M will still be playing basketball at that point. They just entered a COVID pause that may wipe away their remaining games on the schedule and at that point they might just call it quits on the season. The Aggies have no chance at any postseason play and simply calling it quits could be much easier for their team versus working hard to make protocol just so that they can play a final game against Florida that means essentially nothing to them.
The Gators might not have any favors done for them late in the season, meaning their NCAA Tournament hopes are a bit precarious. They’re definitely in the Tournament picture right now, one might even say comfortably, but they could drop very, very quickly. If they lose to Auburn or Kentucky that could see them dropping a few spots in the NET which is into the danger zone. Or, they could win but not look good in doing so which could still drop them, as was the case with a disappointing effort against Kentucky. Or, in mid-major leagues there could be some bid stealers that would take away from the high major teams like Florida in the 8-10 seed range.
Florida is in the Big Dance as of now, but any slips could be devastating.