Whether or not you choose to believe it, the annual games between Kentucky and the Florida Gators have been the premier matchup in the SEC for the past decade. Just ask any Big Blue fan stuck in Florida the past decade and they’ll let you know. From the early 2000’s until now, the Gators have evolved from upstarts to a household name for high school recruits. The Gators have challenged that Cats for the top spot in the SEC, including both times they came into Rupp Arena ranked No. 1 in the country, walking out with a beating in 2003 and narrowly escaping the Cats in 2007. Yet, no matter how much success they have outside of the series, the Gators can’t seem to topple Kentucky, even when they’re on top.
This year, the tables have turned yet again. The Gators remain the top team in the SEC, and have been one of the top teams in the country all season. The Cats, on the other hand, have struggled but are now starting to hit their stride halfway through the conference slate of the schedule. The Cats will be on the road in Gainesville, at times considered a hostile environment, but Kentucky has proved that to be wrong in recent years. In fact, they have proved to be superior to the Gators in general: home, away, and neutral. out of the past eight matchups since John Calipari came to town, the Gators have only beat the Cats once–by two points. Yes, the Cats are young. But they can handle a hostile road/neutral environment, as they’ve shown at: Oxford, Brooklyn, and yes, even Louisville. The Gators couldn’t even handle a subpar Arkansas squad on the road. I think the question becomes: do the Gators pose a threat to the Kentucky Wildcats? We’ll find out tomorrow night.
March 4, 2012: No. 1 Kentucky (74)- No. 16 Florida (59)
February 26, 2011: No. 22 Kentucky (76)- No. 13 Florida (68)