After a slow start to the season, the Florida Gators have distanced themselves from the pack in the SEC East. Tied for the overall lead in the league, they have easily been the most impressive team thus far in the SEC.
Billy Donovan seems to finally getting his program back the level it enjoyed when it won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. He’s getting a balanced attack that is proving a difficult task for opponents to guard.
Erving Walker leads the team with 14.8 points per game, but gets plenty of help from Kenny Boynton, Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons who score about 35 points per game together. They’re an experienced group that has been through the rigors of the SEC before and want to return the program to glory.
Despite the success though, now is not the time for the Gators to rest on their laurels. Their final four games of the season all look to challenge their stranglehold on the standings. Home games against Georgia and Alabama along with trips to Kentucky and Vanderbilt will test the Gators. Time to see how bad the Gators’ bite is.
Stock Up: St. John’s. About 3 weeks ago, the Red Storm was the quintessential bubble team. Now, it looks like the only way it doesn’t make the NCAA tournament is if its canceled. St. John’s has beaten Duke, Georgetown, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut. At this point, it looks like they may be just playing for seeding now.
Stock Down: Missouri Valley Conference. The MVC’s showing in BracketBusters this weekend was very dissapointing. The conference did harbor some hopes to be a multiple bid league before the weekend, but after its three best teams lost in national TV games, those hopes are dashed. I’m used to seeing this as one of the best mid-major leagues, but it is truly a down year in the Valley.
Stock Up: Cliff Ellis. Here is a man in charge of a team that won the regular season title in the Big South last season, but was upset in the conference tournament. His Coastal Carolina squad is dominating the regular season again, but lost it’s starting point guard to a torn knee ligament. Then it found out leading scorer Desmond Holloway was suspended for a violation of NCAA rules. Ellis didn’t wallow in pity, he just got his team prepared to go out and beat North Carolina Central by 35 points. He continues to do a hell of a job with that program.
Stock Down: Minnesota. Gopher fans are seeing why Wildcat fans ran Tubby Smith out of Kentucky. A promising season is now on the verge of disaster as the Gophers have lost five of their last six. The Gophers face the real possibility of missing the dance altogether – possibly putting Smith on the hot seat. That’s something no one saw coming.
This Week’s Bracket Projections:
Last Four In: Memphis, Virginia Commonwealth, Boston College, Alabama
Last Four Out: Richmond, Butler, Colorado St, Virginia Tech
Good for Games through 2/20
1.Kansas16.McNeese St/Morgan St Tulsa
8.Utah St9.Old Dominion
7.Florida St10.St. Mary’s Chicago
5.Missouri12.Boston College/VCU Denver
6.Xavier11.Minnesota Washington, D.C.
7.St. John’s10.Tennessee Tulsa
2.Texas15.Long Beach St
1.Ohio St16.Vermont Cleveland
5.North Carolina12.Cleveland St Washington, D.C.
7.George Mason10.Marquette Denver
1.Duke16.Long Island/Texas Southern Charlotte
5.Texas A&M12.UTEP Tucson
7.West Virginia10.Michigan St Tucson
2.San Diego st15.Coastal Carolina