The Florida Gators are chomping at the bit to get their chance at the No. 1 ranking, and with losses by both the Michigan Wolverines and the Kansas Jayhawks, they have a great opportunity to be voted into the top spot.
The Gators are currently on a 10-game winning streak and lead the SEC by two games over the Mississippi Rebels, Kentucky Wildcats and Alabama Crimson Tide. Florida is also undefeated in SEC play (8-0) and is 18-2 on the season.
Their only two losses came at the hands of the Kansas State Wildcats on a neutral court and also at the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Az. The Gators had Arizona beat and let that game slip away in the final minute of play.
Why should Florida be ranked No. 1?
First, they deserve their shot. Indiana, has already been No. 1 and although they had an impressive win at home against the current No. 1 Wolverines, it’s time to give a new program the opportunity to hold down the No. 1 ranking.
Second, they are playing the best basketball in the country. The Gators share the basketball and are an offensive juggernaut. They are currently ranked 7th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.6%), 22nd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (39.1%) and 19th in the nation in assists per game (15.7).
Third, they have the best backline combination in the country. Erik Murphy and Patric Young are the best inside-out tandem in the nation.
Murphy averages 12.9 points per game, which is 2nd best on the team, and also snags 4.6 rebounds per game. Murphy also shoots an astounding 56.8% from the field and 51.8% from 3-pt range, which is 5th best in the nation.
Young averages a team best 6.8 rebounds per game and shoots 63% from the field (14th best in the nation). In addition, Young adds that physical presence and toughness that head coach Billy Donovan needs in the paint.
The ability for Murphy and Young to stretch post players create a match-up nightmare for opposing coaches and allow Donovan’s ball screen offense to thrive in Gainesville, Fl. In addition, Will Yeguete is a more than suitable back up and high energy post player.
Lastly, the Gators perimeter play is also some of the best in the nation. Kenny Boyton, Mike Rosario, Michael Frazier II and Scottie Wilbekin all display the long-distance shooting threat and dribble penetration capabilities to give Florida a truly dynamic lineup.
One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see if the voters think that Florida’s roster and resume is strong enough to be No. 1 in the land.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo