Throughout history at the University of Florida, many may argue that the school is typically considered as a football-dominated university. Well in a year when the Gators football program had a historically bad one, the basketball program is bringing life back to athletics on campus in Gainesville.
Until they lose, it doesn’t look like either Arizona or Syracuse will be bumped from the top spots in the National Rankings. However, with a 17-2 record, the Gators were able to jump from 6th in last week’s rankings to 3rd in Week 13. Part of jump came with a loss from Michigan State, as well as leapfrogging an undefeated Wichita State program.
The Gators are currently riding a 11-game winning streak that started back on December 10th win a 77-75 win over then-ranked #13 Kansas. Just a week before, the Gators lost to #12 Connecticut in a 65-64 nail biter. The only other loss on the season for Florida was against #20 Wisconsin, which was just the second game on the season. Now that the Gators are in SEC play, they won’t face another ranked team until they play Kentucky on February 15. They’ll hope to keep riding this streak to bolster their national position at least until that showdown in Lexington.
The Gators are led by Casey Prather, a 6’6” forward from Jackson, Tennessee. On the season, Prather averages 16.8 points per game and 5.4 rebounds. On the offensive end, Prather gets help in the way of 12.5 a night from Scottie Wilbekin, a 6’2” guard who is playing in his hometown of Gainesville. Both of these guys are using their senior leadership and familiarity of SEC play to keep the Gators currently undefeated in their conference.
The Gators from Florida could be a hot team to roll with right now. Not only do they have the emotion of being ranked #3 in the nation, but they also are getting all of the limelight that would typically otherwise go to a football-crazed university. It doesn’t hurt that the remainder of their schedule only has two games against a ranked opponent, both of which will be against Kentucky. If the Gators can finish the season strong, they could be looking at a #1 seed in the tournament next month, which could give them a ton of momentum as they look for their first title since 2007.
The Gators are currently at 10/1 to win the National Championship in April.