By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
With one game remaining in the SEC regular season, Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas are currently tied for 3rd place with 10-7 records. The Cats and the Gators close out the season in Gainesville, and Arkansas closes its season at Missouri. If Missouri beats Arkansas, then both Kentucky and Florida will have the precious double byes, but if Arkansas beats Missouri, the Hogs will get the #4 seed and the winner of the Kentucky-Florida war will get the #3 seed.
Since the Cats and Gators tip off at noon, and Arkansas-Missouri does not start until later in the evening, the Cats and Gators must both approach this game on the basis that a win is required and the loser will be playing in the #5 seed position next Thursday. For this reason, post season play effectively begins tomorrow for the Cats because a loss will drop the Cats into a virtual losers bracket in the SEC Tournament. Therefore the #3 seed is the prize for victory tomorrow afternoon.
On Wednesday night, the Cats toyed with Mississippi for about 30 minutes before finally putting the away for a 18 point win in the Cats’ last game at Rupp this season. It would have been more reassuring about the Cats’ prospects tomorrow at Florida if they had continued their recent highly efficient play, but the team’s game efficiency slipped some against Mississippi, and the team also slipped behind Florida as now the 4th highest ANE in the SEC.
Florida’s 19-11, 10-7 record has produced an ANE of 0.201 ppp (#23) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.1065 ppp (#10). The Cats’ 21-9, 10-7 record has produced an ANE of 0.192 ppp (#28) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.1059 ppp (#12). The ANE analysis gives the edge to Florida by 5 points, 75-70, in a game played at a pace of 73 possessions. Pomeroy has Florida favored by 4, 74-70 with a pace of 68 possessions. Vegas opened today with Florida a 5 point favorite.
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