DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Florida will have to settle for fifth place in the final Southeastern Conference men's basketball standings.
The Gators (13-8, 9-7 SEC) had a chance to secure one of the top four seeds in the SEC Tournament, but Sunday's 65-54 loss to Tennessee locked up the No. 4 seed for the Volunteers (17-7, 10-7), relegating Florida to the No. 5 seed and a second-round matchup between the winner of Texas A&M-Vanderbilt in Wednesday night's play-in game.
Now Florida will have to play Thursday in Nashville, where the Gators are in need of a good showing to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The Gators have dropped two in a row and are just 3-3 since returning from a coronavirus pause in mid-February.
Florida has been to the NCAA tournament each year since 2017 and would have made last year's tournament had it not been canceled. But the Gators have yet to advance past the SEC Tournament semifinals under Mike White, who is in his sixth season at Florida.
The Gators swept Vanderbilt in the regular season but didn't play Texas A&M. If they win Thursday's game, the Gators will face No. 2 seed Arkansas, which handed Florida a 75-64 loss Feb. 16.