Gators just outside ESPN’s power rankings

The Gators are off to a great start to the 2021-22 men’s college basketball season. They’re 4-0 with a streak-snapping win over rival Florida State in Gainesville, and that victory earned the team a spot in the AP Top 25 after it didn’t receive much preseason hype in a deep SEC.

Florida moved up one spot from No. 24 to No. 23 this week after a convincing victory over a mid-major Milwaukee team, but despite the start, the Gators are still “in the waiting room” outside of the top 16 in ESPN’s power rankings, the same place they found themselves after the FSU win. However, they are now the second team out, just behind St. Bonaventure (the Bonnies are also ranked in the AP Poll and just took down Clemson).

We’ve spoken about the Florida defense a couple times already this season, but there was another notch in the Gators’ belt on Thursday, when they limited stud Milwaukee freshman Patrick Baldwin Jr. to 13 points and three rebounds on 6-for-15 shooting — after the potential lottery pick averaged 20.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in his first two games.

These rankings were updated before Florida’s 20-point win over California on Monday night, and while the Golden Bears aren’t very good, a blowout win over a power conference team is a good sign. With the win, the Gators take on Ohio State on Wednesday night in the championship at the Fort Myers Tip-Off, and a win over the Buckeyes would likely jump the Gators into the top 16.

This team began the year with minimal expectations, but now those expectations are there. In the past, Mike White‘s teams haven’t handled that very well, but we’ll see very quickly if this squad is going to be different.

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