Florida Gators Meet Alabama for the SEC Championship

Jim FolsomContributorFebruary 28, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 18:  Alex Tyus #23 of the Florida Gators looks on against the BYU Cougars during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men�s basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 18, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Florida Gators had their six game win streak stopped on Saturday at Rupp Arena by the Kentucky Wildcats. Though it would have been nice to snap Kentucky's 32 game home win streak, the Gators will not complain about gaining a split for the week. Earlier in the week, the Gators completed a season sweep over the hated Georgia Bulldogs.

Florida will now face Alabama on Tuesday night for the overall SEC Championship. Anthony Grant's squad will also be coming in following a loss. They were tripped up on Saturday by Ole Miss. Both teams come in with identical 11-3 SEC marks with one game to play following Tuesday. The winner will own the head-to-head tie breaker, so it all comes down to Tuesday night.

For Alabama, the game is a little bit more important than for Florida. Actually, a lot more. Not only is the SEC riding on it, but for the Tide, it could mean the difference between making the NCAA Tournament or not.

Alabama is on the bubble. Their RPI is 89 and their strength of schedule is 139. They desperately could use a signature win. They do still have Georgia left, however Georgia is also a bubble team.

For the Gator seniors, it would be especially sweet to win a championship. These guys— Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus—were charged with rebuilding the Gator program after the back-to-back championship teams. When all those players left at once for the pros, the Gators were left with a bunch of true freshmen and sophomores to rebuild with.

These guys went through three years of being on the NCAA bubble. The bubble popped at the end of the season, and the Gators ended up in the NIT. Last year, they just did sneak in, sweating it out on Selection Sunday and celebrating when they finally saw their name called.

No such worries this year for the Orange and Blue. But to watch these guys cut down nets would be fantastic. Net cuttings for their predecessors was almost old hat. They did it at at the '05 SEC Tournament, the '06 SEC Tournament, the "06 NCAA Elite Eight, and after winning the "06 Final Four. But when the '07 team won the regular season SEC Championship with a late season win over South Carolina, those guys still busted out the ladders and cut them down again.

When asked why, Coach Donovan explained that he wanted his team to enjoy every minute of being a college player. Of course, that team went on to cut nets down three more times that year. If this team cuts nets down a few more times after Tuesday, that would be fantastic. But if they don't, watching them do it once will still be truly special.