HOOVER, Ala. — The Florida Gators will surely find themselves in uncharted territory during the next six days.
After the Gators' SEC Tournament opening loss to Texas A&M, Florida has landed squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. The Gators will sweat every minute of the next week and each minute of Monday's selection show until they learn their postseason fate.
This isn't a team that's used to being in this position. The Gators have reached the College World Series each of the last three years and haven't missed the tournament since 2007.
But ask coach Kevin O'Sullivan or any of the players, and they'll tell you it shouldn't even be a question.
"We played the hardest schedule and we have a pretty good RPI," said pitcher Johnny Magliozzi. "We've been to Omaha three times in a row. We have a strong team here, and we're put together for the postseason."
Based on the numbers, Florida has a case. Entering the tournament, the Gators have an RPI near the top 25 and have played the most difficult schedule in the country. Florida has more wins against the top-50 (14) and top-100 (19) than SEC peers Alabama and Auburn, two other programs on the cusp of a NCAA bid.
So while Florida did finish the season only one game over .500, O'Sullivan does look back at that high number of quality wins as a definite cornerstone to their resume.
"It's basically up to the committee," O'Sullivan said. "Of the things they look at it, we have the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country. Our RPI is pretty good. We've got a lot of wins against the top-50, top-100 teams in the country. When you play a tough schedule, you leave yourself open to have a curious record at the end of the year."
O'Sullivan does admit though that the Gators' finish to the season will certainly dwell on the minds of the committee. Florida won just two SEC games in May, including a series defeat to Georgia, the worst team in the conference.
Will the committee grant more weight to those losses? Or will they look harder at Florida's sweep of South Carolina, a possible regional host, and the series win against Ole Miss?
That remains to be seen, but O'Sullivan will argue that those wins are more significant.
"We've had our ups and downs, and the negative is we haven't finished strong," O'Sullivan said. "That's obvious, but we've had a lot of great weekends in between. But everybody's short-sighted and focused on what we did the last three weeks. I understand that, but this team has played well at different parts of this season. At the end of the day, it's the committee's decision, but we've put a very difficult schedule together, and I think that's what they want."
The next six days will surely be tough for the Gators, as their fate now rests completely out of their control. O'Sullivan isn't going to let that faze his team though. He said they'll hit the practice field and stay in the same routine they've had all year.
Because he's confident their season isn't over.
"We're going to practice as if we're expecting to get in," O'Sullivan said. "You can't turn on and turn off momentum. We aren't going to just sit in the dorms. We plan to have our offense going and hopefully the committee will consider us."