After beating South Carolina Wednesday night, the Gators are 20-7 overall and 7-5 in Southeastern Conference play. They still have to host Tennessee and Mississippi State, the two teams with the best SEC records, and play at Georgia and Kentucky.
The Wildcats are only 14-10 overall, but they are 8-3 in SEC play with home games left with Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida as well as road games at South Carolina and Tennessee. If the Wildcats just win their three remaining home games that would guarantee them a better SEC record than Florida.
The Gators ranked No. 58 in the going into the South Carolina game while UK was 70th. However, UK's strength of schedule ranks 27th while Florida was at 117.
"Compare Florida to Tennessee. (Tennessee coach) Bruce Pearl scheduled very heavy. His team is No. 1 in RPI and second in strength of schedule," Conley said. "He knew he was going to have a good club. He got them prepared for a rough season all along the way. I think his team is well prepared for the NCAA because of the schedule. But I just am not sure Florida's schedule merits them being in just because they have 20 wins."
And what about Kentucky"
"If they get to 18 wins and then make the conference tournament semifinals, I think they could get in there," Conley said. "It"s not a sure thing, but if they finish second in their division (in the SEC East), it's not easy to make a case for a team below them that didn't play a very strong schedule making the tournament over them."
Kentucky senior guard Ramel Bradley says the key for Kentucky is just to keep winning.
"Our record in the SEC is pretty good and shows we are better than we played in November and December," Bradley said. "We have put ourselves in good position. But we've got a tough stretch of games left starting with a very good Arkansas team on Saturday. We have to protect our home court."
Bradley says he doesn't look at the SEC standings or RPI. Instead, he tries to focus on each game.
"Me and the guys just believe if we continue to win basketball games, then we will play in the postseason. If you don't win, then you don't play in the postseason. We are just focused on going out in this home stretch and wining all these games," Bradley said. "The goal is to win out and just keep playing.
"It is a lot easier to say it than it is to do it. But if we focus on scouting reports and play competitively and compete like we can every single time on the floor, it will take care of itself. That's the only way we can approach it."
Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie made it clear to his players after Tuesday's win over Georgia that the focus needed to be better. The Cats jumped in front 20-4 but led only 55-52 before limiting Georgia to just one field goal the final 6 minutes, 24 seconds in the 61-55 victory.
"We had not had a lead like that in a long time," Gillispie said. "We didn't guard like we needed to when we got the lead. When they changed to a man to man defense, we took a lot of questionable shots and their defense was better than our offense. Our thought process was pre-December (when UK did not play well)."