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WINNER TAKE NOTHING

The Southeastern Conference's regular-season championship isn't up for grabs today when the Gators host Kentucky but there's plenty at stake nonetheless.

GAINESVILLE -- Florida is bad and Kentucky might be worse. The two teams play at the O'Connell Center at 2 p.m. today. It should make for an exciting regular-season finale.

Some might read those three sentences as cheaply written sarcasm. Sarcasm it is not. With both the Gators (21-9, 8-7 SEC) and Wildcats (19-11, 8-7) needing wins to improve fading chances of at-large bids Calathes to the NCAA Tournament, Saturday's match-up of the Southeastern Conference's traditional basketball powers will have the feel of a playoff game. 

[PICTURED, How will this guy respond?]

It has already been established what Florida forward Alex Tyus thinks about today's game. And everyone agrees that it is most unusual that both Florida and Kentucky have lost three straight entering Saturday's game. And we already know that Saturday is Senior Day for UF guard Walter Hodge. What else, then, is left to learn?

Well, for starters the winner of Saturday's game will be the Eastern Division's No.3 seed in the SEC Tournament, which begins on Thursday in Tampa. That means Saturday's winner will align with Arkansas and Auburn in the first two rounds. Games against Arkansas and Auburn seem like a much easier road to the semis than what awaits the East's fourth seed, Alabama in the first round followed by conference champ LSU.

What else? Well, Saturday's winner will end the regular-season with nine conference victories, or one more than the loser. If the NCAA Selection Committee is forced to choose between Florida and Kentucky for an at-large bid, then a win on Saturday could be the deciding factor.

Anything left to learn? Oh, yeah. How is Nick Calathes going to bounce back after being benched at the end of the Gators' loss to Mississippi State? That's pretty important. Calathes is the only player in the nation averaging more than 15 points, five rebounds and six assists, but UF coach Billy Donovan had some harsh words for Calathes after the loss to Mississippi State. Calathes scored a career-high 33 points earlier this season in a loss to Kentucky at Rupp.

DON'T FORGET! We'll be blogging live from the O'Connell Center on Saturday, so join in the fun.

-jo-

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