Barring someone making a Georgia-like miracle run in the conference tournament, your most likely candidates for dance invitations are LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. The Gators stay in that group on the basis of Saturday's messy 60-53 over Kentucky. While both Florida and Kentucky entered the contest technically on the bubble, neither really looked like a tournament team -- especially the Wildcats, who have now lost four straight and have one foot in the ground.
But can someone explain to me why either South Carolina or Florida would get in?
The Gamecocks have 21 wins after beating Georgia, sure, but zero -- absolutely none -- against RPI top-50 teams. Florida, meanwhile, has 22 wins now, which looks great on paper. When you dig a little deeper into those numbers that the NCAA Tournament committee love to look at, the Gators case looks crummier too.
Road wins? Florida has two mediocre ones, at Vanderbilt and Auburn. Top-50 wins? Florida has just two. A strong finish? The Gators are 4-6 in their last 10, even after Saturday's win. Their best victory was on a neutral site over Washington in November, and they have a terrible loss at Georgia, a team that has an RPI near 200.
Florida didn't exactly wow a national-TV audience in the Kentucky win, either. The two teams combined for 37 turnovers (23 by Kentucky), with the Gators winning despite shooting less than 40 percent. A statement, it was not.
Still, the Gators are undoubtedly alive for a berth as they head to the SEC conference tournament, but they should need a win or two to make sure. Kentucky, on the other hand, is deservedly dead. Barring an unexpected hot streak next weekend, the Wildcats are NIT bound.