Florida's regular season is in the books, and despite a few moments of extreme disappointment earlier in the year, the Gators are looking like the team we all thought they'd be when the season started.
They finished strong with a win at Vanderbilt on Saturday, a victory that ends the year in very positive fashion (except for this unfortunate incident). All five starters scored in double figures to clinch the first SEC title since 2007 -- back when UF was the Jesus of college basketball.
That got me thinking: Where does this team rank compared to some of the great Florida teams of the past? So, since I'm so popular and cool, I spent a large part of my Saturday night preparing a blind comparison between this team, the 2000 NCAA Tourney runners up and the national champions from 2006 and 2007.
Below, you'll find the four teams listed in random order and compared across the categories that I either thought were important or were easily researchable thanks to the wonders of this website.
So, take a look, try to figure out which seasons are most impressive to you, rank them, then click the "continue" link and see if anything surprises you. PLEASE don't sit there and try to figure out which is which based on clues because that's no fun, and it'll mean I sacrificed untold amounts of booze and women for nothing tonight.
Note: Numbers are from the regular season only. I used AP rankings for the wins and losses when applicable but went with RPI across the board so that every team has some context.
Here we go:
Record: 24-6, 10-6 SEC
Vs. the Spread: 14-10
Vs. AP Top 25: 2-1
Scoring: 78.3 to 63.5 (14.8-pt margin of victory)
Best 5 Wins: By 9 vs. RPI #13, By 5 vs. RPI #17/AP #16, By 15 vs. RPI #41, By 15 at RPI #41, By 5 vs. RPI #85/AP #19.
Losses: By 4 at RPI #6, By 4 vs RPI #6/AP #10, By 4 at RPI #45, By 5 at RPI #56, By 6 at RPI #62, By 4 vs. RPI #62.
Record: 24-6, 13-3 SEC
Vs. the Spread: 13-13
Vs. AP Top 25: 4-2
Scoring: 71.5 to 62.4 (9.1-pt margin)
Best 5 Wins: By 2 vs. RPI #12/AP #10, By 13 vs. RPI #16/AP #6, By 4 at RPI #23, By 10 at RPI #25/AP #21, By 4 vs. RPI #25/AP #23.
Losses: By 18 vs. RPI #2/AP #4, By 8 at RPI #12/AP #22, By 3 at RPI #53, By 7 at RPI #104, By 3 vs. RPI #128, By 3 vs. RPI #149.
Record: 23-6, 12-4 SEC
Vs. the Spread: 14-9
Vs. AP Top 25: 4-4
Scoring: 83.8 to 68.9 (14.9-pt margin)
Best 5 Wins: By 17 vs. RPI #5/AP #11, By 25 vs. RPI #12/AP #24, By 29 vs. RPI #27/AP #11, By 2 vs. RPI #31, By 26 vs. RPI #41/AP #20.
Losses: By 15 at RPI #5/AP #22, By 3 at RPI #15/AP #8, By 2 vs. RPI #15/AP #16, By 11 vs. RPI #25/AP #22, By 2 at RPI #37, By 10 at RPI #41.
Record: 26-5, 13-3 SEC
Vs. the Spread: 10-13-1
Vs. AP Top 25: 4-1
Scoring: 79.8 to 62.6 (17.2-pt margin)
Best 5 Wins: By 26 vs RPI #1/AP #3, By 16 vs. RPI #12, By 3 at RPI #13/AP #20, By 13 vs. RPI #13, By 10 vs. RPI #47/AP #24.
Losses: By 2 vs. RPI #11/AP #10, By 10 at RPI #12, By 4 at RPI #41, By 13 at RPI #47, By 10 at RPI #90.
OK, so I just did this research and typed it out, and I've already forgotten which team is which (I think one of them is the Monstars from Space Jam).
By overall record, it goes: D, B, A, C.
By RPI, it's: D, C, B, A.
Against the spread, it's: C, A, B, D.
Against the Top 25: D, B, A, C.
Margin of victory: D, C, A, B.
As far as wins and losses, you can judge for yourself. Team B had the worst losses but is also the only one with five wins against the RPI Top 25, and though Team D probably wins those categories as well, C really beat the hell out of some people and had the "best" losses.
Hopefully you made your way through all those numbers. If so, towel off, grab a drink and click continue.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the 2007 national champs are Team D (they pretty much were the Monstars). The 2006 national champs are A, this year's squad is B, and the 2000 runners up are C.
So, how did the 2011 Gators do on your list? Shocked at how well they compare to these great teams from the past? Take away the three-point losses to South Carolina and Jacksonville that NEVER should have happened, and you've got a school record for SEC wins and a 26-4 record. Regardless, their numbers stack up pretty well with three teams that made the Final Four.
Of course, the paper trail doesn't matter for much. In person, the 2007 Florida team would beat the tar out of the 2011 version (and everyone else). But the point is that through the end of the regular season, these Gators have performed about as well as any in school history. Some close calls and the potential to lose to teams like UCF and JU are worrisome, but they've also shown the ability to play very well, and Saturday's win against Vanderbilt was an especially encouraging way to enter the postseason.
Hit me with your thoughts. How do you feel about this crew? And how does your confidence in them compare to the 2000, 2006 and 2007 squads?