SEC Tournament 2013: Round-by-Round Predictions
In one of the more under-the-radar major conference tournaments, the SEC will go to battle from Mar. 13 to Mar. 17. The winner will be named SEC conference champions and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
So how will it all go down?
Last year, the third-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores took down the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats to win the crown. This is the type of unpredictable play that the SEC has presented us with in recent years.
Will we see another unsung champion rise? Or will it be a favorite who emerges with the conference crown?
Let's find out.
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No. 12 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Mississippi State
In a battle between two of the underachieving SEC teams, South Carolina will take on Mississippi State. The teams split their regular-season series, with the Gamecocks most recently winning 79-72 on Mar. 6.
Expect a similar result when these two teams meet again.
Brenton Williams scored 38 points when the Gamecocks and Bulldogs last met. Chances are, he won't reach that number in the first round of the SEC tournament.
What he will do, however, is open up lanes for he and Michael Carrera to take over when it counts.
South Carolina 76, Mississippi State 66
No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Auburn Tigers
When Texas A&M plays Auburn, it will be a battle between a good team that struggled in conference play and a squad in disarray. Having lost nine in a row, Auburn qualifies as the latter.
Texas A&M wins this one comfortably.
Elston Turner is a legitimate star, as his average of 17.7 points per game would suggest. Behind his offensive output, the Aggies will advance to live another day.
Look for Kourtney Roberson to open some eyes.
Texas A&M 79, Auburn Tigers 63
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No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 LSU
This may not be a game of high profile, but it will be one of the best we see all season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Anthony Hickey are the reasons why.
The conference tournament is made for stars to rise and Caldwell-Pope is that type of scorer. Unfortunately, Caldwell-Pope is the only player on the Bulldogs that averages double-figure scoring.
In 2012, Hickey played 40 minutes and came up with five steals against Kentucky during the SEC tournament. This season, Hickey leads the nation in steals.
Between his ability to force turnovers and Johnny O'Bryant III's interior presence, LSU wins late.
LSU 75, Georgia 70
No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 South Carolina
Unlike the NCAA tournament, there won't be a No. 12 upsetting a No. 5 seed.
Jordan McRae is an explosive scorer, and Jarnell Stokes is a nightly double-double threat. Trae Golden, meanwhile, is a dynamic playmaker that South Carolina simply will not have an answer for.
They'll make it interesting, but the Gamecocks lack the firepower to win this one.
Stokes will dominate the interior, as Golden and McRae work the perimeter. Look for Skylar McBee to find his three-point shot as well, as the senior looks to make one more magical run.
Vols win a tough one by a comfortable margin.
Tennessee 67, South Carolina 58
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt
This is not the same Vanderbilt squad that won the 2012 SEC tournament. With that being said, Kedren Johnson is an excellent playmaker who knows how to get to the line.
That will keep Arkansas at bay as the Commodores attempt to make a run towards defending their crown. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks have something that Vanderbilt does not: BJ Young.
Young will remind everyone why he was once the top point guard prospect in the nation and put on a show for the fans in attendance. Behind his monster performance, the Razorbacks will advance.
Just don't think it'll be easy.
Arkansas 73, Vanderbilt 67
No. 6 Missouri vs. No. 11 Texas A&M
Texas A&M will be in any game as long as Elston Turner is playing. Matched up against Missouri, however, they'll need something special to pull out a victory.
Did we mention that Turner guy?
The last time these two teams met, Turner scored 15 points en route to a 70-68 Aggies victory. That's something that will instill confidence in Texas A&M as they pursue the upset.
Unfortunately, Phil Pressey is a stud at point guard and Laurence Bowers is getting hot at the right time. Even as Turner has the Aggies thinking upset, the Tigers possess the superior players.
In turn, they escape. Barely.
Missouri Tigers 82, Texas A&M 78
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No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 LSU
The Florida Gators are the No. 1 team in the conference, but they won't make it out of this game without a few scars. Johnny O'Bryant III and Anthony Hickey will make sure of that.
The Gators will own the lead from wire to wire, but they'll never pull too far away. Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario will be forced into turnovers, and the Tigers will convert in transition.
Unfortunately, LSU will wither down the stretch as the Gators gain steam.
Florida will pound it inside and draw O'Bryant III into foul trouble. This will put LSU's chances at victory in doubt.
Behind Erik Murphy's double-double, the Gators will find a way to escape. A tough test for the conference favorites.
Florida 68, LSU 57
No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Tennessee
Led by Trevor Releford, the Alabama Crimson Tide have been one of the more pleasant surprises of 2012-13. With Jarnell Stokes at the helm, the same can be said for Tennessee in their second season under Cuonzo Martin.
So who wins this one?
On Jan. 12, Alabama defeated Tennessee by a score of 68-65. On Jan. 26, the Volunteers won 54-53.
In other words, we're going down to the wire. That's exactly where Releford and Jordan McRae shine brightest, which sets the stage for a classic finish.
Look for Releford to be the player who earns 'Bama a surprising win.
Alabama 60, Tennessee 59
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Arkansas
Kentucky has everything to lose and Arkansas has everything to gain. This is the classic battle of a weakened David against a hopeful Goliath.
Considering the Razorbacks defeated the Wildcats 73-60 on Mar. 2, momentum is in Arkansas' favor. Led by Alex Poythress, however, Kentucky will put a temporary end to the criticism of the Wildcats.
No matter how well B.J. Young plays.
Poythress will emerge as a tournament star, topping 20 points and creating for his teammates. With Willie Cauley-Stein working the interior and Archie Goodwin coming up late, Kentucky will win.
A victory they desperately need.
Kentucky 78, Arkansas 71
No. 3 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 Missouri
Marshall Henderson was made for stages like this. No matter how badly opposing fans may hate him, he will rise up and perform at a superstar level.
With that being said, Henderson will not be alone in his elite play. Phil Pressey will shoulder the load for Missouri and rise up to counter Henderson shot for shot.
The question is, who do you trust making big shots—Henderson or Pressey?
Henderson will outperform the point guard, giving the Rebels a late lead. With Murphy Holloway securing yet another double-double, Ole Miss will appear to have it all locked up.
Until Jabari Brown shows up and forces our first overtime game of the tournament—an area Henderson will, again, thrive.
Ole Miss 93, Missouri 87 OT
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No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 Alabama
A fierce rivalry will be rekindled as top-seeded Florida takes on an upstart Alabama team. In a battle that will rival the physicality of their football counterparts, we'll learn who the SEC elite truly is.
No surprises here.
The Gators will prove worthy of their seeding, jumping out to an early lead behind Scottie Wilbekin's facilitating. Trevor Releford will do all he can to bring the Crimson Tide back into this, but Florida will win by virtue of their depth.
Kenny Boynton may be inconsistent, but when he's on, he's dominant. This game will display such a truth.
Florida 80, Alabama 69
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Ole Miss
Entering this game, the Kentucky Wildcats will be the favored team. They thrive on star power and maintain elite expectations in spite of Nerlens Noel's season-ending injury.
With that being said, Ole Miss has been a giant-killer since the beginning of the season. Marshall Henderson's tendency to drop 20 points in a hurry and Murphy Holloway's status as a double-double machine are major reasons why.
So who will emerge from this affair?
A second-half switch will see Alex Poythress take on Henderson. This will prove to be a marvelous decision, as the Wildcats will pull ahead as Poythress stifles Henderson's scoring attempts.
Behind Archie Goodwin—who is much overdue for a breakout performance—we will see the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup we've all been waiting for.
Kentucky 68, Ole Miss 63
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No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Kentucky
Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Florida Gators in the SEC tournament semifinals by a score of 74-71. This year, the Gators will be looking for revenge as they hope to damage their rival's NCAA tournament chances.
The Gators will come out firing from the start, and the Wildcats will be in disarray. Mike Rosario will light it up early, while Scottie Wilbekin will remind the world that he's more than just a facilitator.
For good measure, Patric Young will revitalize his NBA draft stock.
It won't eliminate Kentucky from the NCAA tournament, but it will be a tough pill to swallow. This is a specific reaction to the fact that Florida will win big.
It may sound cruel, but that's the way this tournament goes.
Florida 81, Kentucky 68