Florida’s chances at winning a Southeastern Conference matchup this season have been about as good as that of a coin flip — 50-50.
Now, taking a .500 conference record into the SEC Tournament on Thursday as a No. 8 seed against ninth-seeded Arkansas, Florida will look to turn its fortunes around.
After its loss to Kentucky last Tuesday, Florida needed to win its last regular-season game against Missouri on Saturday to have any hope of keeping its at-large NCAA Tournament bid hopes alive.
The Gators defeated the Tigers 82-72 to snap their four-game losing streak, but with an eighth place standing in the conference, Florida still has a slim chance of making the NCAA Tournament.
Florida would have to advance far against the SEC’s top teams this weekend — a group that UF has had almost no success against his season.
Against No. 1 seed Texas A&M, No. 2 seed Kentucky, No. 3 seed South Carolina, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 5 seed Vanderbilt, the Gators own a 1-7 record.
"We were in a great position three weeks ago, and now not so much," coach Mike White said. "Our guys have had opportunities to fold. We’ve had a couple pretty average practices. We’ve shown signs of being mentally weak."
Before their four-game skid began on Feb. 20, the Gators were projected as high as an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, to even qualify for the tournament, they will have to string together a series of impressive wins in the postseason, beginning with Arkansas.
"Going into it, we definitely feel a lot better about ourselves than if we had dropped another one," White said after UF’s win on Saturday against Missouri. "I just think it helps with your preparation. We’ll be smiling on the plane for the first time in a couple weeks."
After winning its last game, Florida is feeling confident. But White knows that the team will need more than confidence if it wants to make a postseason run.
"We came to shoot around and we had great focus, great energy," White said on Saturday. "Obviously moving forward in the SEC Tournament, you're searching for 40 minutes of that."