Fueled by 'hate'
Five reasons the Gators will earn a historic repeat
Posted: Monday April 2, 2007 10:24AM; Updated: Monday April 2, 2007 5:34PM
ATLANTA -- The suspense, I'm afraid, is already gone from Monday night. Forecasting Florida to repeat as national champion is about as risky as predicting that Jo Noah will scream as many times as he scores. Or Thad Matta will chew gum and sweat profusely. Or Greg Oden will do at least one violent chin-up on the rim and then revert to his poker face within three seconds. A Gators victory -- unlike the one in a different dome in January -- will not be something it's acceptable to say "I told you so" about afterwards.
There seems to be more anticipation over what Noah's celebration will consist of Monday night. I pray it will at least trump the spastic performance he put on after winning the SEC championship game. Jo may give off a spontaneous vibe, but I suspect he stayed up late last night, alternating between watching YouTubes of crazy dance moves and then trying them out in front of Taurean Green to gauge potential crowd reaction. Just like Jim Nantz plotting his verbal Velveeta in advance, Noah will come prepared. With what, exactly, the nation will soon find out.
Still, it's my duty to provide you with an airtight, five-pronged argument for Florida's (near-guaranteed) victory, including why three-point defense is more important than offense, why the Gators' first meeting with Ohio State mattered and why Oden won't. Here goes:
1. The $6,351,600 Factor.
"It doesn't matter who gets the shot," said Noah. "It's about making history, and we're so close... We know that when you win, everybody's going to eat."
Only when the mission is accomplished, can they all chow down ... and then, cash in.
2. The Blowout Rule (and to a lesser degree, the Horford Factor).
On Sunday, OSU players explained why they're so much better than they were in December, using all the usual cliches about how "we've grown as a team since then" (Conley), and "we all have a lot of confidence now" (Oden). It's true. They are better. Oden, who was a one-handed center back then, is now healthy; Conley has become their leader; and they've gone 25-1 since that loss. Are they really 27 points improved, though? I'd give them 10 or 15, but not 27. The reality is OSU would need to be at least 30 points better because Horford dropped a double-double on them with one good ankle, despite coach Billy Donovan saying he looked "awful" in practice earlier that week. "Al played a lot better, and a lot more, than we thought he would coming into that game," said senior forward Chris Richard. "Now that he's 100 percent, maybe he'll come even better than he was last time."
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