Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Florida (#1)

To be frank, it’s a little difficult to write these previews, knowing that in a normal world, Florida likely would’ve had Keyontae Johnson available. Before we even really get started here, a reminder for Vol fans to be praying for his recovery and for the best possible outcome.

Alright, back to the rivalry. Tennessee has defeated Florida on four straight occasions. Mike White, who was about $250K in assistant money away from being Tennessee’s head coach, is 1-5 against Rick Barnes. And I have to say, this is one of my favorite sites on the Internet at the moment.

Here are the things to know about these Florida Gators:

  • Based on the roster they had heading into the season, Bart Torvik’s site had them ranked 10th. I know, I know: sounds ridiculous. But Bart’s site also nailed how good Texas would be when a lot of others doubted.
  • That said, the Gators are now ranked 37th and freefalling on the same site.
  • The Gators are as close to a schizophrenic team as Tennessee can draw this year. They’ve got five 90+ Game Scores on Torvik’s site (that’s very good)…and five performances of 72 or worse (that’s not good).
  • The only player who was on Tennessee’s roster the last time Tennessee lost to Florida (2017) is John Fulkerson.
  • Mike White is 1-5 against Rick Barnes and 56-34 against all other SEC competition.

Here is a game information section to relieve pressure from Grant Ramey’s mentions.

  • THE OPPONENT: Florida (6-4, 3-3).
  • THE CHANNEL: ESPN. Dick Vitale is on the call, just FYI.
  • THE TIME: 7 PM ET.
  • THE SPREAD: Tennessee -7.

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NEXT PAGE: If you ask politely I’ll give you my thoughts on Tennessee football. Just kiddin’

Show Me My Opponent: Florida

From last week:

There are no KenPom Top 25 teams in The Stretch. That’s excellent. What’s not excellent is that Tennessee has only racked up seven conference wins to this point in a season where they really needed eight or more to feel good about this. Two games in particular will sit poorly with the players and staff if they can’t turn it around in these five games: the 63-58 home loss to a terrible Texas A&M squad and last weekend’s two-point road loss to South Carolina. The second of those is far less offensive to me than dropping a home decision to a team that has lost to Harvard, Temple, and Fairfield.

It’s all in the past now. Tennessee can rectify those games by winning one more game than they’re expected to. Both KenPom and Torvik anticipate Tennessee finishing the season 2-3 in these five games. That would add at least one Quadrant 1 win, which brings Tennessee to three on the season…or the same number as 21-6 Saint Mary’s, which is not good when you’ll end up playing six more Q1 opponents than they will. If Tennessee can get to four, that gets them onto the bubble. It’s that simple. Can Tennessee actually Do It? We’ll see.

Reader, they did not Do It. They were about 10 minutes away from Doing It, blew the game, and then got demolished by a team with more to play for on Wednesday. If all you care about is the NCAA Tournament, the season is over and you can begin planning your spring break travels without factoring in a potential Tennessee Thursday/Friday game. (Personally, I suggest that this is a great time to jump on the ETSU bandwagon if you haven’t yet.) This is an NIT team, assuming they can fart out 1-2 more wins this year, and that’s pretty much it.

If Tennessee somehow goes 2-1 over these final three, that would be nice. But no one trusts this team to do so, and no one should, really. Thinking about next year does make it better, though.

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