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At season's end, a new hope; Plus the all-important question!!!

GAINESVILLE -- Thank goodness for the disgusting basketball they're playing in the Yellowhammer State these days (the SEC contingency, anyway). Just when you thought this Florida Gators basketball team was done ... Billy D and the boys will play either Auburn or Alabama in the first round of the SEC Tournament. At season's end, there is a new hope.

Florida beat both Alabama and Auburn this season. Auburn's five-guard line-up is a good match-up for the Gators and Alabama's line-up is a good match-up for anybody. Florida will be the East's No.4 seed in the SEC Tournament. The Gators' first-round game is set for 7:30 p.m. next Thursday at the Georgia Dome.

The Gators will most likely play the Crimson Tide but if Auburn beats Arkansas on Saturday (not likely) and Alabama loses to Vanderbilt, then Florida gets Bama in the first round.

Now BEFORE YOU ASK YOURSELF if the Gators can still make the NCAA Tournament after losing to Tennessee, the answer is, obviously, yes. It's going to be tough after losing six of the last nine games and but if Florida beats Kentucky in the season finale and then wins that first-round game in the SEC Tournament, then, believe it not, that might be enough to get into the NCAA Tournament. That's how watered down the Field of 64 is this March. It seems there are more bubble teams than locks.

I'm really hoping Florida makes the NCAA Tournament. Not for the Gators' sake, of course, but for my own biased reasons. I've never been to Denver or Anaheim and would love to take trips to those cities.

BOTH CALATHES BOYS ON THE BUBBLE: Florida guard Nick Calathes isn't the only Calathes on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Nick's older brother, Pat Calathes, scored 17 points on Thursday night to help St. Joe's upset No.8 Xavier. A few more wins and St. Joseph's (18-10, 9-6 in Atlantic 10) could back its way into the Big Dance. What are the chances of a the Calathes boys playing against each other in the NCAA Tournament? Not likely. Perhaps the NIT, though.

SPEAKING OF NCAA TOURNAMENT MATCH-UPS...would anyone out there in Internet land like to see a Florida vs. Miami first-round game in the NCAA Tournament? Highly unlikely but, with the conference tournament's still to be played, it's possible.

SPEAKING OF CANES AND GATORS ... Here's the all-important question: Who would win this season, the Canes or the Gators?



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