While the SEC doesn't quite dominate college basketball like it does football, it is looking for a clear favorite, as the conference tournament is down to just four teams.
No. 13 Florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss will all take the court on Saturday, with each team looking to advance to the SEC Championship Game and bolster its resume for an appearance in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Looking at the bracket, it hasn't been an easy ride for any of these teams. But with just one game standing between them and a shot at an SEC title, here's my prediction on how it all will play out.
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
Following a 64-48 dismantling of the Kentucky Wildcats, Vanderbilt will see a tough Ole Miss team that narrowly edged Missouri, 64-62, in the SEC semifinals.
While the Commodores are playing solid basketball of late—having won three straight—the Rebels will be too much for them in the semis. Junior guard Marshall Henderson is coming off a 27-point effort in the win against Missouri and has Ole Miss playing excellent basketball.
The Rebels currently own an RPI of 50 but are 2-3 against top-50 RPI teams this season, which doesn't give much hope to Ole Miss should both it and Florida advance to the championship game.
Nonetheless, the Rebels have the talent to beat a Vanderbilt team that's just 8-10 vs. the SEC this season, with one of those losses coming at the hands of Ole Miss.
Ole Miss advances.
Alabama at No. 13 Florida
Alabama may keep this game closer than many think against Florida, but when it's all said and done, the Gators will find themselves competing for an SEC title.
The Crimson Tide were 10-point winners over Tennessee in the quarterfinals on Friday. Sophomore guard Levi Randolph led the way with 15 points and five rebounds.
It was Florida who had the more impressive win, though, as the Gators drubbed LSU by 22 to advance to the semifinals.
Owning the eighth-best RPI in the country, Florida should get by Alabama—which doesn't even rank in the RPI top 50—with the help of Erik Murphy, who went for 27 points and 12 rebounds against LSU.
The Gators already beat Alabama by 12 earlier this season, and I think they have what it takes to earn a second victory and an appearance in the SEC championship game.
SEC Championship Game Prediction
No. 13 Florida over Ole Miss
Erik Murphy will be too much for Ole Miss' interior defense, as Mike Rosario gets into the lane and creates havoc for the Rebels' defense, both dishing and scoring.
Even with Marshall Henderson playing lights-out of late, it won't be enough for Ole Miss to get past Florida.
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