A Night of Upsets Hurts SEC's NCAA Tourney Hopes

MrSEC DotComContributor IMarch 5, 2009

You, the fan, might enjoy a night of upsets, but all those shockers last night might have knocked the SEC down to just three NCAA bids.

March 4 might be remembered as the night they drove old Dixie down.

In case you haven’t checked the league’s scoreboard yet, here’s what went down on Wednesday:

In the evening’s lone non-upset, Ole Miss outlasted Arkansas 98-91 in Fayetteville in overtime behind Terrico White’s 29 points (25 of which came after halftime).

In Baton Rouge, LSU lost on senior night to a Vanderbilt club that is more up and down than any other team in the league.  The 75-67 loss snapped a 13-game in-conference winning streak and could hurt LSU’s tournament seeding.

But in even bigger news, Florida’s game with Kentucky this weekend will have a lot less on the line following both teams’ losses last night.

Florida fell, 80-71, at Mississippi State.  The Gators, who trailed by double-digits during most of Sunday’s game with Tennessee, once again fell behind by as much as 16 in Starkville.

And then there’s Kentucky.  With their uninspired loss to Georgia, 90-85 on senior night in Lexington, the Cats probably blew any hope of an NCAA at-large bid.  It was just UK’s sixth senior night loss in school history.

As for UK’s embattled head coach Billy Gillispie:

The Wildcat fans who were already on Gillispie’s case will now really be calling for blood.  And at this point, while I believe it’s silly to fire a man after just two years, you can certainly understand their anger.

Just a month ago, Kentucky was enjoying the outside game of Jodie Meeks and the inside work of Patrick Patterson.  Their defensive efficiency rankings were well ahead of everyone else in the league.  Heck, they started the SEC portion of their season 5-0.

But now UK has lost seven out of 10 games, has lost two in a row at home, and their defense has collapsed...allowing 90 points to by far the worst offensive club in the SEC.

Now Kentucky, and possibly Florida, will most likely have to win the SEC Tournament to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

For Kentucky, not getting in would snap a consecutive tourney streak going back to 1991 and the dark days of probation.

For the Florida, not getting in would drop the Gators into the NIT for the second consecutive year, following back-to-back NCAA titles.

It’s not a good time to be named Billy in the SEC right now. 

If given the chance, I think some Wildcat and Gator fans would be all over their coach like Tommy on Billy Batts in “Goodfellas” right about now.