Why Florida is the real No. 1

The Gators' strong start, Jim Boeheim's new formula for success and more

Originally Published: January 20, 2013
By John Gasaway | Basketball Prospectus

Florida FansKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsBilly Donovan's Florida Gators blew out the Missouri Tigers on Saturday.

Florida has opened SEC play with wins over Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and Missouri. You might be thinking those four teams don't exactly represent the top competition of Division I, and you'd be right. But for better or worse, they do sum statistically to a pretty fair representation of the league's 13 non-UF programs.

And why, exactly, am I so interested in the relative strength of Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and Missouri? Because what the Gators did to those teams is simply remarkable. Billy Donovan's team is currently outscoring its conference opponents by an unheard-of 0.42 points per possession. Quick comparison: Kentucky, on its way to a national title, outscored the SEC by 0.26 points per trip in 2011-12.

Now the disclaimers. Yes, it's early. Yes, the Tigers faced Florida without Laurence Bowers (and I'm on the record as saying that's a big hit to Frank Haith's team). Yes, the ability to beat Georgia to a pulp on your home floor will doubtless prove to be of minimal utility when the NCAA tournament rolls around. All of that is understood.

But that doesn't mean the Gators don't deserve to be in the discussion as the top team in the nation right now.


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