The 2013 SEC tournament begins on Thursday, March 14 and runs through Sunday, March 17, and it promises to be one of the more thrilling—plus meaningful—conference tourneys this season.
With Florida the only true lock to make the field of 68—Missouri looks relatively safe at this point as well—there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this event.
If one or more of the handful of NCAA tournament bubble teams is able to make a deep run in the SEC tourney, it’s highly likely to have positive stock ramifications—especially with Selection Sunday falling on the last day of this competition.
Let’s take a look at the SEC’s bubble teams that can’t afford to slip up in Nashville.
Kentucky Wildcats, 19-8, 46 RPI
Coach John Calipari’s crew is right on the cusp of making an appearance in the Big Dance, but first needs to prove itself in the final weeks of the season—and then the SEC tournament.
UK still needs to face off against Arkansas, Georgia and Florida, and has a strong chance to earn the No. 2 seed (or possibly better) in the tournament by winning out.
If they can avoid Florida until the finals, the Wildcats will be in great shape to make a long run through this event and show the committee that they deserve a chance to defend their title in 2013.
Things may look bleak without Nerlens Noel, but these kids should get a shot.
Tennessee Volunteers, 17-10, 53 RPI
The Volunteers put themselves on the map on Tuesday night, shocking the world by knocking out the No. 8 ranked Florida Gators.
They went from NIT bound (or worse) to knocking on the door and being a reasonable choice for the selection committee to add to the field.
Jordan McRae, with his 27 points and seven rebounds, was simply unstoppable. He will need to elevate his game to that level to finish the regular campaign and carry that momentum over into the SEC tourney.
Cuonzo Martin’s boys have been nothing short of resilient—winning six straight after back-to-back losses in early February—and should be able to do some damage in the conference showcase as a No. 4 or 5 seed.
Ole Miss Rebels, 20-7, 57 RPI
This team has a solid conference record—with a huge win over Missouri—but needs to prove itself down the stretch to close the 2012-13 campaign on a high note.
The Rebels will definitely need to beat Alabama on March 5, as that contest looks to be one of the main deciding factors on which of these two SEC bubble teams will make it in.
Aside from that, they’ll likely have a respectable seed in the conference tournament, and has to avoid being upset in the early going. A run to the semifinals or further would likely be the icing on the cake this program needs.
If Ole Miss is able to accomplish this, expect the Rebels to be dancing in late March.