SEC Tournament 2013: Predictions for Each Game of the Tournament
The SEC basketball tournament got underway on Wednesday night with two first-round games. Mississippi State defeated South Carolina in Game 1, while Texas A&M knocked off Auburn in the second game.
A full slate of tournament action begins on Thursday with second-round play.
Here are predictions for each game of the 2013 SEC tournament.
Georgia vs. LSU
The Bulldogs defeated LSU at home in the teams' only meeting of this season. LSU has drastically improved since that game, though. The Tigers have not been able to consistently compete with the elite teams of the SEC, but they have been able to play well at home against some of the more average teams in the league.
The Bulldogs have been playing very well also. They won two of their final three games, losing their final game on a heartbreaking half-court buzzer-beater to Alabama.
Both teams have improved, but the Bulldogs showed the first time around that they are the better team.
Mississippi State vs. Tennessee
The Volunteers got hot at the right time, as they say. Tennessee has won eight of its final nine games and has played its way into contention for an NCAA tournament bid. That would all disappear quickly if they fell to Mississippi State, though.
The Bulldogs have struggled for most of the year, including enduring a 13-game losing streak. The way Tennessee has been playing of late, this game is not expected to be much of a contest.
Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas
Arkansas took one on the chin when it went on the road to play Vanderbilt in February. The same can be said for when Vanderbilt went to Arkansas in January.
The rubber match should be as uncompetitive as the first two games were. Vanderbilt has managed to win four of its last five games and is playing much better, but its offense is too stagnant to keep pace with the Razorbacks.
Texas A&M vs. Missouri
The Missouri Tigers could do no wrong at home this season, but conversely they could do nothing right on the road. One of their road fiascos came when they took on the Aggies in College Station.
Missouri came apart against the Aggies on the road, and it ultimately cost them the game. The same thing should not be expected to happen this time around. Missouri is much more talented then Texas A&M, and that will show in their second meeting this season.
The most interesting storyline to follow: Which Missouri team will show up to a neutral site? The one that could not lose at home, or the one that could not win on the road?
Georgia vs. Florida
The Bulldogs and Gators met two times this season, and on both occasions the Gators showed that they are just on a completely different level than Georgia.
The Bulldogs played much better the second time these two teams met, and they may even play better the third time they meet, but they simply do not have enough firepower to knock of the Florida Gators.
Tennessee vs. Alabama
The Crimson Tide and Volunteers' meeting should be one of the most interesting matchups in this entire tournament. Alabama and Tennessee split the season series, with each game being decided by only one possession.
With both teams on the bubble for the NCAA tournament right now, this game could go very far in deciding who dances in the big dance and who has their dreams dashed on Selection Sunday.
Right now Tennessee is playing some of the toughest basketball of any SEC team, and that will be very hard for the Crimson Tide to overcome.
Arkansas vs. Kentucky
This Kentucky team is the hardest team in college basketball to figure out. The Wildcats are full of players projected to be NBA lottery picks, and they have shown the ability to play at a high level against top teams, but the majority of the time they play very mediocre basketball.
Arkansas was able to take advantage of the Wildcats' inconsistent play and beat them by 13 at the beginning of March.
Expect Kentucky to follow up its big win against Florida with another big win against the Razorbacks in the SEC tournament. Desperation to reach the big dance will propel Kentucky into the next round.
Missouri vs. Mississippi
The Tigers were missing star forward Laurence Bowers when the Rebels defeated them in January. When they got Bowers back, Missouri had no problem dispatching the Rebels at home.
Now the two teams meet for the rubber match.
The game will all come down to what version of the Tigers we see. Will they play like they do at home and get the easy victory? Or will they play like they do on the road and suffer another close loss in the final seconds?
Tennessee vs. Florida
One of Tennessee's biggest wins this season came when it defeated Florida at the end of February. Winning two SEC tournament games will certainly help the Volunteers get close to locking up a tournament bid, but beating Florida would lock one up for sure.
The Gators have come up just short against some of the top competition they have faced in recent weeks, and that will be the case here again.
Tennessee comes out fired up and does everything it takes to make sure it locks up that NCAA tournament berth.
Missouri vs. Kentucky
The Tigers and Wildcats got together for a very entertaining Saturday night clash at Rupp Arena at the end of February. The Wildcats walked away from that game with an overtime victory, while the Tigers were left wondering what they need to do to win on the road.
Thankfully for Missouri, its semifinal matchup will not be on the road, but at a neutral court. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they might as well be on the road. Big Blue Nation travels extremely well and it will feel like a home game for the Wildcats.
If the Tigers can get into a groove in their first two games and get accustomed to playing at Bridgestone Arena, then maybe the fans of Big Blue Nation will have no effect on the Tigers.
Tennessee vs. Missouri
The Volunteers-Tigers matchup is probably not the title game that most fans are expecting to see, but they should not be disappointed to see it either. Tennessee and Missouri met for the first time last weekend and played a great game which Tennessee managed to win by two points.
The Tigers will be hard to stop at this point, though. The longer the Tigers stay in Nashville and get accustomed to playing at Bridgestone Arena, the more dangerous they will get. If they make it all the way to Sunday they will bring a full wrecking crew with them to the title game, and Tennessee will want to get out of the way.