As of today, Feb, 28th, my crystal ball is working perfectly. I noted back on Feb, 21st that we needed to win out, and Florida would need to lose at least one, if not two games before we meet on the last day of the regular season. Wouldn't you know it, the Gators are trying to oblige me.
I knew Florida was going into the toughest part of their schedule the last three weeks of the season. What I did not know at the time was that the injury bug was going to bite them so hard. They really miss Will Yeguete, Casey Prather, and Michael Frazier. Last night, as you can read in the link, they were all cleared to practice and be evaluated. Frazier is expected back on the court this weekend, and the other two should follow shortly afterward. Florida faces Alabama on Saturday, and a loss to the Tide would not bode well for the Gators. However it would also put Alabama square in the middle of our road.
As for the Kentucky Wildcats? They have followed my sage advice and continued their winning ways. The real trick here is to continue to simply do that -- just win. If UK can beat Arkansas on Saturday, and follow that with the win at Georgia, It is going to be no holds barred in Lexington when the Gators get to town.
Right now, Florida sits at 12-3 in SEC play, while Kentucky and Alabama follow at 11-4. Ole Miss at 10-5 and Tennessee at 9-6 are slightly behind, but making a push. As of today, all of these teams have a theoretical shot at making the NCAA Tournament. While the top 3 have the advantage, scheduling and quality wins are both a part of the bottom two's resume. Ole Miss and Florida have better overall records than UK, however Bama and Tennessee do not.
What will Saturday bring? We know that the Cats and Razorbacks are going to be in each other's faces at 4:00PM, and we know that by the time they take the floor, the Florida/Bama contest will already be settled. Tennessee must take care of business against Georgia, while Ole Miss has their seasonal battle royale with Mississippi State for bragging rights in the Magnolia State.
When the dust settles on Saturday we will either have a very clear picture of what needs to be done, or it is going to get even muddier. Again, the mantra has to be "win and let the chips fall". Either Florida is going to be in a three way tie with us come Sunday morning, or they will remain in first place and dispatch Alabama. As long as we win, we will either be alone in second place, or tied for first place with Bama and Florida.
Alabama probably has at least as tough a situation as we do. They have to beat Florida, Georgia, and Ole Miss to win it all. I do not think they can get out of those three unscathed. They are at Florida and Ole Miss, so one of those will probably be a loss. Florida's in-between game is Vanderbilt in Florida, so that should be a relatively easy game for them. For us, it is indeed running the gauntlet, as games in Fayetteville and Athens are going to be serious road blocks (pun intended) to getting down to a win-it-for-all-the-marbles game against Florida in Rupp.
Fear not, however, true believers! The crystal ball has remained clear and shiny this week, and the blue mist has started to build in it's depths. Come Florida game time, it will be glowing a bright blue, as we face the Gators for the SEC Championship, at home, in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena -- a place where laying gator traps is second nature for Wildcats. Soon we shall be standing in Mike Slive's SEC banner distribution center with our arms out saying , "please, sir, may I have another?"