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NCAA Basketball Florida Gators

Florida Gators’ Nonconference Success Proves They Are Best in SEC

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 13 Florida Gators crushed the Savannah State Tigers 76–34 behind an outstanding performance from preseason first team All-SEC Center Patric Young. With a 10–2 record, the Gators have cruised through non-conference play and are looking forward to a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth.

Billy Donovan’s team has come a long way since early in the season when he said that the Gators were “light years away from being a ranked team or even an NCAA Tournament ready team.” That bold statement looked like it would be the case when Florida fell early to the Wisconsin Badgers and then a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater against the Connecticut Huskies. However, wins over the Kansas Jayhawks and Memphis Tigers have proven that they’ve transformed from Donovan’s exaggeration, but the SEC is a going to be just as difficult as their non-conference schedule.

On top of other ranked SEC teams like the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers, Florida faces some tough mid-range competition with opponents like the LSU Tigers, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels all capable of making a push to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Gators aren’t going to cruise through SEC play by rolling over every team that isn’t Kentucky or Missouri; expect them to stumble along the way.

At the moment, Florida is the best team in the SEC based on wins and the way they lost games, but expect there to be extremely tough competition for the regular season SEC title and a No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Taylor Sturm is a SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google