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Beating Kentucky might not be enough, says analyst

GAINESVILLE -- Gator Clause talked NCAA Tournament with ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas this afternoon. Bilas doesn't think a Florida win against Kentucky on Sunday will guarantee the Gators a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

"I don't know if that's enough to get them in because they're both borderline," he said. "Has [Florida] beaten enough quality teams? I don't know."

The answer to Bilas' question is ... no, Florida has not beaten enough quality teams. While a win against Kentucky probably won't lockdown an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the Gators, a loss against the Wildcats, playing without freshman Patrick Patterson, will most certainly send Florida to the NIT. (Of course, Florida could always win the SEC Tournament.

Now, to the important question: Are Florida and Kentucky battling for one NCAA Tournament bid today? Bilas seems to think the situation is more like Florida and Kentucky are battling for the right to earn a bid with a few more wins.

"If you compare Florida to Virginia Tech and Kentucky then Florida can make a pretty strong case," said Bilas, a lawyer who likes to make cases. "If Florida beats Kentucky then they will have beaten Kentucky twice and they can make a compelling case."

Kentucky (17-11) has won eight of its last 10 games and is 4-6 against teams with an RPI between 1-50. That tournament resume is much more impressive than anything the Gators can boast. Kentucky did beat Tennessee. Of course, the Cats also lost to Gardner-Webb and San Diego. While Florida doesn't have a signature win, the Gators also don't have any bad losses.

TODAY'S SILLY NCAA GUESSING GAME: There are about 15 at-large bids still up for grabs. There are about 25 teams on the bubble. Let's see if we can find 10 bubble teams worse than Florida.

1. Maryland
2. UAB
3. Illinois State (maybe)
4. UNLV
5. New Mexico
6. Oregon (maybe)
7. Syracuse
8. Rhode Island
9. Dayton
10. Western Kentucky

Here's the thing that might end up killing Florida. Obviously, the Gators have a weak strength of schedule but, beyond that, Florida has lost to three bubble teams: Ole Miss, Arkansas and Ohio State. A head-to-head game against another bubble team could be the clincher.

-jo-

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