Regular Season Standings
SEC Tournament Schedule
|First round – Wednesday, March 8|
|1||7:00 PM||SEC Network|
|Second round – Thursday, March 9|
|3||1:00 PM||SEC Network|
|Quarterfinals – Friday, March 10|
|7||1:00 PM||SEC Network|
|Semifinals – Saturday, March 11|
|Championship – Sunday, March 12|
SEC Tournament Preview
The SEC comes into conference tournament week with four teams solidly in the big dance: Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, and Arkansas, with a fifth team likely to get in, the Vanderbilt Commodores. While it would come as a surprise if one of these five teams didn’t win the tournament, stranger things have happened. In 2008 Georgia won this same tournament as the 12 seed. Kentucky and Florida will be the heavy favorites, as both teams dominated the conference in regular season play, but could someone else shake things up? Lets find out with the predictions.
SEC Tournament Predictions
The opening day matchups should be pretty easy predictions. Missouri fired their head coach a few days ago, they are one of the worst shooting teams in the country, and I don’t see the Tigers being ready for a Auburn team that swept them during the regular season. LSU and Mississippi State just played on Saturday, in an 88-76 win for Mississippi State. That loss means LSU has lost 16 of their past 17 games, and the Tigers’ defense is so bad that I don’t see that turning around in Nashville, Mississippi State should cruise to a berth in the second round, and Johnny Jones may be fired the next day.
The second day will kick off with Georgia and Tennessee. Both teams were bubble teams a few weeks ago, but have trailed off to end the season. Tennessee lost five of their last seven, and Georgia is like the team that almost was. The Bulldogs took Kentucky to the buzzer twice, but just couldn’t get that season-defining win, they took Florida to OT on the road but lost, and fell by just two points to South Carolina on the road. Eventually, all of these near losses will translate to near wins, and I see Georgia wiping the floor with Tennessee, proving that they could be a tough challenge for Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The second game of the day won’t be very close, Alabama should crush Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs twice during the regular season, and I expect them to make that three, and move on to face South Carolina in the next round. The second half of the day kicks off with Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Vandy has made a late push to the tournament, and currently finds themselves in my “last four in”. A loss here would knock them out of the field, but a win will probably lock up an at-large birth. With their season on the line, Vanderbilt beats Texas A&M for third time this year, and advances. The last game of the day has potential for an upset. I really like the job that Bruce Pearl has done with Auburn, and while the Tigers are 0-2 vs Ole Miss this year, both games were close losses. I see Auburn taking Ole Miss to the brink again, but ultimatley falling short for the third time this year. Auburn is one of the most inexperienced teams in the conference, and they will be going against a more experienced Ole Miss team that can grind it out and hit free throws down the stretch, which will be the key to an Ole Miss victory.
So far my predictions have been “chalk” and our quarterfinal matchups will be: Kentucky-Georgia, South Carolina-Alabama, Vanderbilt-Florida, and Ole Miss-Arkansas. As I mentioned previously, Georgia has taken Kentucky to the brink twice. They took the ‘Cats to overtime on the road, and were leading with two minutes to go in Athens, but both times the Bulldogs couldn’t get the job done. With a banged up Yante Maten, they won’t be able to keep up with UK’s talent, and they will lose to the Cats again. Earlier this year, Alabama beat South Carolina in a quadruple overtime game, and we get to see the rematch in the SEC quarterfinals. Alabama is a good defensive team, but they don’t shoot the ball well, and come into the tournament after losing three of four. They match up against a South Carolina defense that is best in the conference, and that is a recipe for disaster for a poor shooting team like the Tide. The Gamecocks move on to the semifinals. The third quarterfinal is the most interesting in my opinion. Florida is clearly an overall better team than Vanderbilt, but the Commodores might be Florida’s kryptonite. Vanderbilt is the best three-point shooting team in the conference, which matches up well against Florida’s D. Vandy actually sewpt Florida in the regular season series, including a 73-71 win this past Saturday. Beating a team as good as Florida three times in a season is near-impossible, and Gators are hot, winning 11 of their past 13, so while it will be close, I see Florida edging out Vanderbilt, and avoiding going 0-3. In the final game of the night, Arkansas faces off against a hungry Ole Miss team. I really like the Rebels, but Deandre Burnett could be playing banged up after sitting out Saturdays game. The Razorbacks are rested, going up against a banged-up Ole Miss team that had to play the day before, and that’s a recipe for success.
Kentucky will go head-to-head with South Carolina in the first of our two semifinals. Kentucky blew out the Gamecocks in the only other matchup between these two schools, but that was back in Janurary. Since, Sindarius Thornwell has emerged as a household name for South Carolina. The senior is averaging over 21 points per game, and he will go head-to-head with another SEC player of the year contender, Malik Monk. Monk has been extraordinary for Kentucky throughout the year, and if Kentucky is going to make it to their fourth straight conference title appearance, he will need to be on his game. I think he will be, and South Carolina, who lost five of eight coming into the tournament, drops another game. Kentucky’s opponent for the finals will be decided in the second semifinal, Arkansas vs Florida. Arkansas was awarded the three seed because of a head-to-head tiebreaker over South Carolina, so the Razorback get to avoid Kentucky, but beating Florida is no easy task. The Gators rank sixth in the nation in Kenpom, and will come into this game having won 11 of their last 13. This game will be big for NCAA Tournament seeding, and Florida dominated both matchups between these two teams earlier this year, expect them to do so again.
This SEC Final should come as no surprise to anyone, as Kentucky and Florida have been heads and shoulders above the rest of the league all year. These two teams split the regular season meetings, with each team beating the other by double-digits at home. Kentucky comes into this game having won eight straight,and during that stretch, Malik Monk has been fantastic. His run was highlighted by a 33 point performance in the most recent matchup against Florida. Kentucky should have the home court edge in this one, and as long as Monk doesn’t go cold like he did on Satuday, the Wildcats should cruise to the SEC Tournament Championship and a #2 seed in the more important tournament.
SEC Tournament Bracket Predictions
Wednesday, March 8
Thursday, March 9
Friday, March 10
Saturday, March 11
Sunday, March 12