Why Gators are nation's best team

UF is the real No. 1, but how often do the best regular-season teams win it all?

Updated: March 17, 2013, 9:11 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider
Billy DonovanAP Photo/Bill FeigDon't believe the polls: Billy Donovan's Florida team is the best in the country.

I have good news for the Florida Gators. From the opening of the season in November through to the conference tournaments being played this weekend, the Gators have performed at a higher level than any other team in the country. On a per-possession basis, the UF offense has been outstanding, and the defense in Gainesville has been even better. Billy Donovan's team rates as No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy rankings, and in Jeff Sagarin's "Predictor" metric, two rating systems of note. Lastly, Florida outscored the SEC by a higher per-possession margin than any major-conference team has recorded in the past six seasons. Take a bow, Coach.

Part of Florida's excellent performance has come from simple good fortune. SEC opponents shot just 27 percent on their 3-pointers against the Gators, and, while Scottie Wilbekin is an excellent perimeter defender, a number that low likely says more about fortuitous bounces than it does about defense. Nevertheless, this would be an outstanding D even if opponents had made a "normal" number of shots from beyond the arc. And with Erik Murphy hitting shots from both sides of the arc and Patric Young converting paint touches into points, UF has proven to be a remarkably efficient unit on a possession-by-possession basis. Or at least that's how it looks from my chair.

How is it that I could be labeling a team as the best in the country when it isn't even in the top 10 of the polls right now? And what does this title mean for the Gators' chances to win the national championship this season? Let's take a look.