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HOOPS: Writers predict strong season for Gators

GAINESVILLE -- Reporters covering Southeastern Conference basketball picked Florida to finish second to SEC East rival Tennessee this season. Tennessee received 172 votes compared to Florida's 143.

Florida received five first place votes from a panel of 30 writers. The Vols received 23 first place votes. Two writers voted Kentucky No.1.

The Gators return four starters and seven of eight of their leading scorers from a team that won 24 games in 2007 but the Gators must replace a pretty important player, NBA lottery pick Marreese Speights.

Vols junior Tyler Smith was voted SEC preseason player of the year. Patrick Patterson of Kentucky, South Carolina's Devan Downey and UF guard Nick Calathes also received votes.

Link to the SEC press release. CLICK ME!

UF returns four starters and the Vols only return two. Predictions anyone? Full disclosure: I was not one of the 30 media members who voted in the preseason basketball poll. This poll is pointless and means absolutely nothing.

What matters then? Making the Tournament is all that matters in basketball. Last season, I predicted that the Gators would not make the NCAA Tournament. Will they make the Big Dance this season? I'll offer my prediction as the season nears.

What's your gut prediction, Dance or NIT?

-jo-

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