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Daily Word: How the Gators can play deeper into March

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.

1. Florida is struggling, having lost three in a row and four of five. What will it take over the Gators' final two games and the SEC tournament to secure an NCAA tournament berth?

Andy Katz: The Gators need to beat Kentucky. If they don't, then a strong showing in the SEC tournament is a must.

Myron Medcalf: Well, a win over No. 22 Kentucky on Tuesday night would help. A lot. The Gators are 2-9 against the RPI's top 50 and 7-11 against the top 100. But a bad loss in the SEC tournament wouldn't help their cause. Let's be honest: Florida is living off a West Virginia victory from a month ago.

C.L. Brown: Florida has to find a way to get KeVaughn Allen going offensively. He has totaled 18 points over his past three games. There's no way around it, the Gators are facing two must-wins, then they can't embarrass themselves with an early exit in the SEC tournament. So it's either that or just hope every team remotely close to the tournament bubble loses every game.

2. Is Oklahoma just wearing down after a rugged Big 12 slate? Will the Sooners get a second wind or is there reason for big concerns now in March?

Katz: Being free of the Big 12 could/should be the difference. The shooting should come back.

Medcalf: The Sooners entered a Feb. 6 matchup at Kansas State shooting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc. They were on pace to become one of the greatest 3-point-shooting teams in NCAA history. Today, they're at 42.8 percent. That's worth scrutinizing because they've lost four of their past seven games. Their 3-point clip in those losses was 32-for-107 (29.9 percent). You add that to the team's rebounding challenges and it's easy to see why Oklahoma fans might be concerned. But this is still the team that crushed Villanova and Wisconsin. Still the team that nearly upset Kansas at the Phog and swept West Virginia. I think Oklahoma will regain its swagger at some point. On a neutral court, any team that features Buddy Hield has a shot. I wouldn't count them out yet.

Brown: Having to face teams a second time in conference play, you know, how it used to be in the good old days, shouldn't make anyone lose confidence in the Sooners. Once they break from the Big 12 teams that know them and their system so well, they'll be back to doing damage.

3. What's the biggest reason Indiana has the Big Ten title within reach?

Katz: Defense. The Hoosiers found a commitment to defense and haven't lapsed for the most part in the big games.

Medcalf: Last season, the Hoosiers finished 13th in defensive efficiency in Big Ten play, per KenPom.com. They are fourth right now. That dramatic change on the defensive end combined with its high-powered offense pushed Indiana to the top. The single matchups against Purdue and Maryland, both at home, helped too.

Brown: It helps that Iowa and Maryland are proving to be more vulnerable that they'd previously shown. The Hoosiers aren't going to lose at home, so it also helps that didn't make road trips to Purdue and Maryland. Indiana is confident for sure, but I want to see how they handle the road game at Iowa before totally buying in. Will we see the road version of the Hoosiers that visited Penn State and lost 68-63 or the team that blasted Michigan 80-67 in Ann Arbor?