Today is the first day of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament in North Little Rock, Arkansas. First tip off is at 12:00 noon.
In many years past, we assume the tournament was the Tennessee Lady Vols to take.
But, not this year.
The Lady Vols finish 9-5 in conference play and 20-9 overall. They have a young team really still searching for an identity this late in the season. Their inconsistency all year has hampered them. At best, we don't know which Lady Vols team is going to show in the tournament. Tennessee opens with the No. 12 seed Alabama. The Lady Vols can be comforted by the fact that Alabama hasn't beaten them since 1984.
The Lady Tigers from Auburn are looking like they are in the drivers seat. They are ranked No. 5 in the nation and went through conference play with a 12-2 record.
And, those two losses in conference play were the only two losses of the year for them.
The Lady Auburn Tigers are sporting the third best field goal percentage in the nation. They have the best player in the nation when it comes to assists in point guard Whitney Boddie. And, they also have four players averaging in double figures in scoring: Dewanna Bonner, Sherrell Hobbs. Alli Smalley, and Whitney Boddie.
This tournament is big for Auburn. If they can blitz through this field and win the championship, it could mean a No. 1 seed for them in the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt and LSU came on strong in the end of the season and tied for second place in the SEC with 10-4 records.
Vanderbilt won three out of the last five games they played beating Florida, Georgia, and Auburn before losing to Mississippi and Tennessee. They have some scoring of their own coming from Christina Wirth, Hannah Tuomi, and Merideth Marsh. If this team gets hot from behind the arc in the tournament, they can make some noise.
LSU Tigers come in to the tournament winning their last five games against Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. They have a true scorer in Allison Hightower, but her supporting cast is inconsistent. This young team has talent, but will need their best play to make it through this tough conference tournament.
The Florida Gators were on fire through midseason, but seemed to run out energy at the end. They ended the season losing four of their last five and really struggled on both ends of the court.
That performance got them fourth in the SEC. Yet, I think Coach Butler will have these ladies ready to compete and they could be considered a dark-horse in this one to take it all. Sha Brooks and Marshae Dotson are productive seniors on this team and I don't think they are satisfied with just fourth place.
If Steffi Sorensen can get hot from the outside, they may surprise some teams. They await the winner of the Tennessee-Alabama in second round.
Mississippi State has to feel good about it's performance this year too and hence they should feel good about it's chances in the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs came away with 21 wins for the season and a 8-6 record in conference play.
They can't afford though to lose to South Carolina in the first round. That may cost them a birth in the NCAA Tournament.
The South Carolina Gamecocks lead by Coach Dawn Staley had too many injuries this year to overcome and ended the season 10-17 overall and 2-12 in the conference.
Its going to be tough for the rest of the field. Georgia ended the season at .500 in the SEC and 19-17 overall. Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama all had losing seasons in conference play.
Key Players in the my star watch
Skekinna Stricklen, Tennessee, Sha Brooks, Florida, Dewanna Bonner, Auburn, and Merideth Marsh, Vanderbilt.
I look for great performances from these ladies. They can change the complexion of a game and push their teams to the win column.
If you are a fan of Women's College Basketball, please try to catch these teams in action. There will great games throughout the weekend.