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2013-14 Preview: Florida Gators

The Gators have enough talent to push Kentucky in SEC standings

Updated: October 24, 2013, 10:22 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Florida Gators

2012-13: 29-8 (14-4 SEC)
In-conference offense: 1.14 points per possession (1st)
In-conference defense: 0.85 points allowed per possession (1st)

In terms of per-possession scoring margin, Florida in 2012-13 recorded the most successful regular season in recent major-conference history, outscoring the SEC by an unheard of 0.29 points per trip. That bettered the mark achieved in conference play by the 2011-12 Kentucky team that went on to win the national title (plus-0.26).

If you squint hard enough, you can make Florida's bottom line vaguely resemble its glittering scoring margin. The Gators won the SEC regular-season title outright by two games and reached the Elite Eight (which, strictly speaking, a No. 3 seed wasn't "supposed" to do).

But squinting usually doesn't produce the best view. In the end Florida's bottom line -- particularly the 14-4 record in an SEC measurably weaker than the one where Kentucky went 16-0 the season before -- was just as descriptive of this team as the gaudy per-possession scoring margin.

In this case, at least, a lack of those proverbial "good wins" did prove to be prophetic. The Gators notched convincing early-season victories against Wisconsin and Marquette, and the Badgers and Golden Eagles went on to become good teams. But Florida caught those opponents when they were learning to play without recently departed stars. From Dec. 1 up until the Elite Eight matchup with Michigan, Florida didn't have the opportunity to play a single opponent that would end the season in Ken Pomeroy's top 15.

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