SEC Basketball: 5 Dark Horse Teams That Could Win SEC Tournament
Halfway through conference play, the SEC is still as mixed as it was to begin. The SEC has two teams leading the pack (Kentucky and Florida), with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State right behind.
The SEC tournament is without a doubt Kentucky's to lose. They have an impeccable conference record, 9-0 as of this writing, and hold opponents to a league-best 57.9 points per game. With that being said, they have shown that they can be prone to lapses in their play.
Florida is another team from the SEC East that has been dominating conference play, currently sitting at 7-1 in conference play. They are almost certainly the "next best" in the conference.
But past Florida and Kentucky, who could surprise us like Georgia did in 2008?
Here are five dark horse teams that could shock the conference and upend Florida or Kentucky in the SEC tournament.
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Alabama started the year strong, beating teams like Maryland, Purdue, and Oklahoma State. Unfortunately for Crimson Tide fans, they have been the most inconsistent team in conference play.
They kept their game at Kentucky close throughout, and scored 71 points against Kentucky's vaunted defense. Their toughness inside matches up well with the Wildcats, and with some hot shooting, they could win it.
Shooting will be critical for this team. Alabama didn't shoot well (42.9 percent) at South Carolina, and they lost. Against Georgia, they shot well (55.1 percent) and dominated. Alabama is a streaky team, and if they are hot in March, watch out.
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Arkansas is another streaky SEC team that could make some noise in the SEC tournament if they get hot. They have beaten Michigan, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, who are all quality opponents.
The problem with this Razorback team is that they have yet to produce a solid road win. All of their aforementioned wins came at home, and they have yet to win a road game.
Their trip to New Orleans in March is not a true road test, so the Hogs may be able to pull off a massive upset.
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Mississippi State is probably the favorite out of the SEC West teams to win the SEC tournament. Their beef inside with Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie will help them with any team. Moultrie is quietly putting together an impressive SEC Player of the Year campaign, posting 16.8 points per game and averaging 11.3 rebounds per contest.
Surprisingly, Mississippi State is 4-3 in conference play. They have been ranked for most of this year, but have ugly losses at Mississippi and at Arkansas.
The Bulldogs upcoming matchup (Feb. 21) against Kentucky will go far in telling just how good this team is. A win there intensifies their chances of winning the SEC tournament, and increases Moultrie's chances of winning the title of Player of the Year in the conference.
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If there could be a "Dark Horse" among "Dark Horses," LSU would be that Dark Horse. They have produced a shoddy 2-5 record in conference, and underwhelmed for the majority of the year.
The SEC tournament will be in the Tigers' backyard. IF they can produce multiple quality games in a row, they could make some noise. Their win over Marquette shows their potential, a potential that they haven't quite reached since.
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Kevin Stallings' club has survived a rocky start to win 10 of their last 12. Their loss at Arkansas was a step back, but they have been producing quality outings ever since Festus Ezeli has been back.
Some sharp shooting by the highest scoring duo in the conference, John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor, will be imperative if Vanderbilt wants to have a shot at the SEC crown.
The Commodores have the potential. They were ranked seventh in the preseason polls, but haven't proved it quite yet. Two games remain against both Kentucky and Florida, giving Vanderbilt great opportunities to prove themselves.