The SEC didn’t have a strong year, but the regular season doesn’t matter anymore. It’s time for the conference tournament and a chance for every team to negate its regular-season shortcomings with a championship and a NCAA berth.
Florida and Missouri are in good shape to earn an at-large bid if they fail to win the tournament, but not every team is so lucky. The SEC is packed with bubble teams fighting for an opportunity to dance.
Kentucky will be a team to keep an eye on in the tournament this year. With a 21-10 record and a 12-6 conference mark, the Wildcats are on the bubble with an NCAA appearance on the line. A deep run in the SEC Tournament could be an easy entry to the Big Dance, but an early-round exit could spell disaster.
We’ll take a look at the seeding, odds, matchups and more in preparation for the conference tournament.
|1. Florida||8. Georgia|
|2. Kentucky||9. LSU|
|3. Ole Miss||10. Vanderbilt|
|4. Alabama||11. Texas A&M|
|5. Tennessee||12. South Carolina|
|6. Missouri||13. Mississippi State|
|7. Arkansas||14. Auburn|
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
When: March 13-17
Where to Watch: SEC Network, ESPN3, ESPNU, ABC (semifinals and championship)
|Florida (63/100)||Texas A&M (50/1)|
|Missouri (5/2)||Georgia (50/1)|
|Kentucky (7/1)||LSU (60/1)|
|Tennessee (7/1)||Vanderbilt (80/1)|
|Alabama (10/1)||Auburn (100/1)|
|Arkansas (10/1)||South Carolina (100/1)|
|Ole Miss (15/1)||Mississippi State (100/1)|
*Odds acquired from topbet.eu.
*Full bracket can be found at SECDigitalNewtork.com.
Round 1: March 13
|Game 1||(12) South Carolina vs. (13) Mississippi State||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Game 2||(11) Texas A&M vs. (14) Auburn||10 p.m. ET|
Round 2: March 14
|Game 3||(9) LSU vs. (8) Georgia||1 p.m. ET|
|Game 4||(5) Tennessee vs. Game 1 winner||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Game 5||(10) Vanderbilt vs. (7) Arkansas||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Game 6||(6) Missouri vs. Game 2 winner||10 p.m. ET|
Round 3: March 15
|Game 7||(1) Florida vs. Game 3 winner||1 p.m. ET|
|Game 8||(4) Alabama vs. Game 4 winner||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Game 9||(2) Kentucky vs. Game 5 winner||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Game 10||(3) Ole Miss vs. Game 6 winner||10 p.m. ET|
Semifinals- March 16
|Game 11||Game 8 winner vs. Game 7 winner||1 p.m. ET|
|Game 12||Game 10 winner vs. Game 9 winner||3:30 p.m. ET|
Finals: March 17 (1 p.m. ET)
Sleeper to Watch: (7) Arkansas
With a 19-12 overall record and a 10-8 mark in the SEC, the Razorbacks have virtually no chance of making the NCAA tournament without first coming out on top in the conference tournament.
A trip to the Big Dance is at stake, though. Expect Arkansas to come out firing.
The Razorbacks lost three of their final five game of the regular season, but some quality wins in February are reason to believe they are a legitimate threat to make a deep run in the SEC Tournament.
Arkansas pulled off a huge 73-60 win over Tennessee on February 2, followed by an 80-69 upset of Florida on February 5. Subsequent wins over Missouri and Kentucky were impressive, and every team in the SEC Tournament should be concerned about a potential pairing with the Razorbacks.
Junior forward Marshawn Powell has been terrific for Arkansas this season, and sophomore guard B.J. Young played well in the team’s wins over Florida and Tennessee. Young has been inconsistent at times this season, but if both players can get hot at the right time, the Razorbacks stand a good chance of besting Vanderbilt in the second round and repeating their March 2 performance with an upset win over Kentucky in Round 3.
At 10-to-1 odds to win the tournament, Arkansas has a much better chance than the seeding suggests.
Prediction: Florida Triumphs in Nashville
This college basketball season has taught us an important lesson: Any team can win at any time.
Several SEC teams are built for an upset in the conference tournament, but Florida doesn't have a lot to worry about. Neither Georgia nor LSU should present much of a problem in the third round, and barring an upset in the top half of the bracket, either Alabama or Tennessee will come away limping from a third-round matchup that should prove to be a knock-down affair.
Tennessee is the only team in the top half of the bracket to have beaten Florida this season. The Gators' other three conference losses came at the hands of teams they won't be forced to face until the title game.
With consistent production from its entire starting lineup, Florida is built to cruise through the SEC Tournament. No team is safe, but the odds-on favorite to win the tournament has the best chance of avoiding a major upset and securing the SEC title.
This isn't a shocking pick, but there just isn't enough firepower in the SEC this year to bet against the Gators.