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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Having already secured the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and top seed in the SEC Tournament, the Gators only have a perfect conference record and a high national seeding to play for.

South Carolina, on the other hand, still has a lot left on the line.

Currently fourth in the conference standings, the Gamecocks can rise as high as second or drop as low as sixth based on the outcome of Thursday's match with the Gators.

Not to mention the Gamecocks want to protect their unblemished home record this season.

"Just like every team we play, they are going to really be up for this game," UF coach Becky Burleigh said. "It's their last home game for their seniors, and there are a lot of factors into it."

Other than the undefeated conference record, No. 7 UF only has to worry about its seeding for the NCAA Tournament since it - unlike South Carolina - has already locked up a bid.

South Carolina is currently ranked 44th in the RPI standings and could use a resume boost from a win over UF to solidify its chances of making the tournament.

"The implications for us is big too because we have to look at the national picture and seeding in the NCAAs and things like that," Burleigh said. "But in terms of the SEC, there is no real ramification for us in winning or losing that game. So can we overcome that and be motivated enough to play against teams that probably have more on the line than we."

That extra motivation has come from the upperclassmen, who want to finish undefeated in SEC play.

Since switching to the scheduling format in 2004, where every team meets each conference member, no team has gone without a loss.

"The older players have taken it very seriously about the legacy they want to leave with this undefeated season," Burleigh said. "They talked about that before we even clinched the SEC against Arkansas, so that has really kept the team focused.

"That's not something we introduced as coaches, that was something the older players talked about with the younger players."

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