TV Schedule: Saturday, Feb. 20, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Arena: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.
Currently two games behind first in the SEC, the Florida Gators have quietly built a resume good enough to go to the NCAA tournament in their first season under head coach Mike White. Winning three of their final five games would all but ensure their place in the Big Dance, as three wins puts the Gators at 20 on the season. Four of their final five regular season opponents, however, have all been ranked at some point in the season.
Florida must get wins where they can in order to avoid ending the season in a disappointing trip to the NIT. Next up for the Gators is a road trip to Columbia, South Carolina, to face off with the South Carolina Gamecocks, who have lost two straight games.
After a brilliant 15-0 start to the season, the Gamecocks have come back down to earth, losing five games since their blowout at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. More concerning for South Carolina, however, is their last loss to the Missouri Tigers, who could easily finish the season with 20 losses. If the Gamecocks hit a wall now, they could find themselves in the NIT instead of the NCAA.
That being said, South Carolina’s struggles this season have mostly been on the road, so they should come into this game extremely confident that they can pull off a win over the surging Gators. I like both of these teams to find a way into the NCAA tournament, but the Gamecocks will come out on top at home.
Prediction: South Carolina 70, Florida 66