This is only the second time in five years that Florida are facing an unranked Kentucky team, but the Gators have a lot to do with the Wildcats not getting any love from the polls, heading into their third meeting of the season in the SEC Tournament Final.
Florida finished the SEC season with a 18-0 record, beating Kentucky twice in double digits. There seems to be less than a lot of love between the two schools and head coaches, and for those crusading against Calipari as the epitomy of everything wrong with the one-and-done and possibly College Basketball today, there is no bigger hero than Billy Donovan at the moment.
Because Florida are a team built the old fashioned way. No immediate stars: Simply good players, improving each year with added pieces, and hitting that Elite Eight ceiling for three consecutive seasons. Being the #1 team in the country without anyone throwing any RPI, SOS and other numbers at them suggests that someone did a very good job in bringing these kids together and making a great basketball team out of them.
Kentucky? Talent, athleticism, sure, it’s there, plenty of it. But brains? Intelligence? Coaching? We haven’t seen anything like that from Kentucky, who went 12-6 in a weak SEC, losing three of their last four regular season games, including against South Carolina and Arkansas before beating LSU and Georgia, far from being powerhouses or even as good as Missouri and Tennessee (the teams Florida beat in the tournament this year).
Calipari promised a fighting, hard-nosed Kentucky team this season, but his #1 recruiting class with a record six McDonald’s All-Americans in Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee hasn’t really done all that well. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until they explode, but from what we’ve seen from them on the two previous times they met with Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young, there’s not all that much to expect in terms of looking for the upset.