SEC Basketball: Post-Season Update

Kurt WirthCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 19:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners shoots a free throw after a flagrant foul committed by Ameer Ali #34 of the Morgan State Golden Bears (not in photo) in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 19, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Sooners defeated the Golden Bears 82-54. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LSU has begun play against Butler in the NCAA Tournament’s first round to kick off the SEC schedule in the Big Dance. Despite only three teams making the cut, all three seem to be in a good position to pull off first-round wins.


LSU leads Butler at halftime, 35-29. The Tigers are surprisingly trailing on the boards, but are very hot from the field: 13-of-26 for 50 percent. Surprise!

Marcus Thornton is leading the team, with 13 points but Tasmin Mitchell has continued his elevated play with 5-of-7 shooting from the field for 10 points.

Mitchell seems to be the “X” factor for this team energy-wise and performance-wise. The Tigers desperately need someone other than Thornton to step up offensively, and it looks like they’ve found their guy. LSU is easily outplaying Butler in this game.

13-seed (I know, it’s terrible) Mississippi State faces 4-seed Washington later on this afternoon in a game that has become a popular upset-pick, as most everyone BUT the selection committee can apparently see how grossly under-seeded the Bulldogs are at a 13-seed.

In comparison, last year’s 4-league-win, sub-.500 Georgia squad that won the league tournament also received a 13-seed.

In the NIT, the SEC received two of the four No. 1 seeds in Auburn and Florida. The Gators didn’t disappoint with an 84-62 raping of Jacksonville, but Auburn struggled with Tennessee-Martin 87-82, although UT-Martin are a deceptively solid squad.

Florida moves on to face Miami in what will be a tremendous challenge, as I was very impressed with their game against Providence. Auburn will play Tulsa, which very well could be an easier game than 6-seed UT-Martin.

3-seed South Carolina’s season is over after losing to 6-seed Davidson, who sports possibly the nation’s best shooter in Stephan Curry.

I must say I am a bit disappointed with the coaching job of Darrin Horn. This was an extremely experienced USC squad who was more than adequately talented and yet the team still managed only a first-round appearance in the NIT.

Organizing what was probably the SEC’s lightest non-conference schedule didn’t help.

4-seed Kentucky was up by 20 on UNLV at one point in the second half before the Runnin’ Rebels came storming back. The Wildcats have seemed unfocused ever since Billy Gillespie stepped foot on that campus, but the ‘Cats will move on to the NIT’s second round after a 70-60 win over UNLV.

Another poor coaching job, as Kentucky is supremely talented this year. No excuse for missing the NCAA Tournament.

A bit surprising was Vanderbilt’s exclusion from the NIT, although it’s a bit understandable, as the team’s quality wins are questionable.

More to come throughout the day.