If I'm Billy Donovan, I have to believe that the stars are aligning just about right.
Already contenders in the competitive SEC East, the uncertainty surrounding other top teams in the group can only strengthen their status as such. Tennessee is under a black cloud and a key player in Kentucky's plans remains in limbo.
The Gators look to be much-improved over last season, having barely made the cut as one of the at-large teams in the NCAA tourney and were favored by some to win the East anyway. What is going on in the conference only strengthens this argument.
And that is a shame from a competition standpoint. This could have been one of the more compelling races in any conference. Now the interest seems to be in the sideshow, tempering the enthusiasm that fans for all teams in the division surely must have had.
Last year it was Renardo Sidney from Mississippi State whose eligibility was questioned, and ultimately, denied, possibly costing the Bulldogs a return trip to the tournament.
If Enes Kanter is ruled ineligible, Kentucky will still go to the Big Dance, but they'll have to go home earlier than they'd like.
Tennessee could be minus its coach for part of the season, all of the season, or none of the season and it is difficult to gauge how this will impact the team, or if it will at all.
All of this means that Florida is in a position it hasn't been in for three years—people will be expecting them to win every time out. That isn't going to happen, but first place in the division should be an expectation and not simply a goal.
And if I'm Billy Donovan, I am liking my chances more and more.
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