Originally Posted by disco
I'd probably also pick Florida to win the conference, but what if the committee had left Gators out of the NCAA Tournament last spring (not sure if they really deserved the bid)? Like it was pointed out somewhere, now they are "Tournament team returning all five starters", but they could have been "NIT team returning the players who weren't good enough to get them to the Tournament".
The 10 seed, a result of their tough schedule and soundly defeating Tennessee in front of selection committee members, proved they were more than comfortably in even though the talking heads were railing on about how they were out up until the selection show with some not even having them in the last four out.
I can definitely see how outsiders could point to the alternative. They didn't see how injuries, position flux and bad luck (309th in the nation according to Ken Pom) contributed to all those close losses. They don't see that if we had just one more halfway decent healthy sub we would have advanced in NCAAs past 6 seed BYU in regulation instead of falling in double-overtime after Kenny Boynton fouled out a minute into it.
I saw all the deficiencies last year: depth, experience, comfort level, defense, rebounding and perimeter shooting. I see the two biggest negative contributors gone. I see a group of returning players and incoming freshmen who look poised to substantially improve in all of those areas. What they've got to show is that killer instinct because Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and maybe even Mississippi State also have legit shots at the conference title.