SEC Tournament 2013: Predicting Florida's Path to a Conference Crown

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 16, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 15: Michael Frazier II #20 and Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators fight for a rebound with Johnny O'Bryant III #2 of the LSU Tigers in the second half during the Quarterfinals of the SEC basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The SEC Tournament has been exciting so far, filled with plenty of close games and upsets. With Kentucky officially knocked off, the heavy favorite remains the Florida Gators.

The No. 1 seeded Gators dominated the front half of the season, but have suffered some inconsistent play down the stretch.

Florida's started to right the ship at the perfect time, taking three of their four games in March.

Considered the favorite to take the SEC tourney, here's a breakdown of Florida's remaining steps towards a 2013 conference crown.


Semifinals: Alabama

This Saturday, the Gators will stare down the Crimson Tide in a big semifinal matchup.

These team's faced each other just once in the regular season, a 64-52 Florida win. They also met each other in last year's SEC tournament, when Florida knocked off Alabama 66-63.

The Crimson tide play superior defense, and they were second in the SEC only to the Gators in opponents points per game.

The big difference between these two teams is offense. Alabama has strong starters, but a bench with no punch. Florida can be inconsistent at times, but have enough contributors so there's always someone to feed the ball to.

While 'Bama has the defense to give Florida some trouble, that stale offense doesn't have nearly enough punch to keep up with the Gators.

It won't be a blow out, but Florida has too much talent to drop this one.

Florida 62, Alabama 55


Finals: Ole Miss or Vanderbilt

As long as Florida makes it to the finals, they'll face down either Ole Miss or Vanderbilt.

The Commodores pulled off a stunning upset of Kentucky on Friday, dropping the Wildcats 64-48. It wouldn't be surprising if they could do the same against Ole Miss and head to the finals.

Vanderbilt's MO is a lot like Alabama's. It plays shutdown defense, but struggles offensively. The team barely managed to average 60.5 points per game in the regular season.

The Commodores lost their regular season match with the Gators 40-66.

Ole Miss is a much more complete basketball team. The Rebels had the SEC's best offense in the regular season, and are sound defensively.

Ole Miss dropped its game to Florida this season 64-78.

Of these two, Vanderbilt is the easier opponent—even with the Kentucky upset—and it profiles a lot like the Alabama matchup. And even though the Rebels know how to score, Florida's superior defense will be enough to slow them down.

If the Gators face the Commodores: Florida 65, Vanderbilt 50

If the Gators face the Rebels: Florida 71, Ole Miss 67