The 2014 SEC tournament continues on Saturday as Tennessee takes on Florida in one semifinal and Kentucky and Georgia face off in the other.
Both games feature one team already in the NCAA tournament and one trying to fight its way in.
Florida is all but assured a No. 1 seed and will likely be the top team overall, even with a loss to the Vols. Kentucky was given a No. 7 in Joe Lunardi's most recent Bracketology on ESPN.com, so a trip the SEC tournament final could see the Wildcats jump up to No. 6, or maybe even No. 5.
Georgia and Tennessee are on the bubble, the Bulldogs much more so. The Volunteers probably only needed one win in the SEC tournament to book their place in the Big Dance. Anything short of a title likely won't be enough for Georgia, so the stakes are huge there.
Below are the schedule for Saturday and predictions for how each game will unfold.
Day 4 Schedule
|Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||TV Info|
|1 p.m.||No. 1 Florida||No. 4 Tennessee||ABC|
|3 p.m.||No. 2 Kentucky||No. 3 Georgia||ABC|
The tournament games can be live streamed on Watch ABC.
Full tournament bracket can be viewed on CBSSports.com.
Don't count out the Volunteers. At time of writing, Ken Pomeroy had Tennessee ranked 12th in the country. At their peak, the Vols can be deadly, as evidenced by their 35-point win over Virginia back in December. At their trough, the Vols are bad enough to lose to Florida by 26 points.
Florida won both of its regular-season games against Tennessee. The cliche, though, says that it's hard to beat the same team three times in one year. The Volunteers are a good team, and sooner or later, you'd think they'd get the edge on the Gators.
In the last meeting between the two, Tennessee was hanging around for a while. It was down one point with four minutes to play. Then Michael Frazier hit a three-pointer and Scottie Wilbekin scored eight points to give Florida the win.
When speaking ahead of the rematch, Vols coach Cuonzo Martin noted how much of an impact the senior had down the stretch, per David Jones of Florida Today:
UT's Cuonzo Martin on facing top-ranked #Gators Saturday: "I thought last 3-4 minutes (last meeting) he (Wilbekin) took over the game."— David Jones (@DaveJonesUFbeat) March 14, 2014
There simply aren't any holes in this Gators team. While they don't have what you'd consider a heavy-volume scorer or singular star player, their offense is one of the most efficient in the country, and their defense is surrendering a paltry 58.5 points a game, sixth in the NCAA.
What will be the matchup in the SEC tournament final?
This one should be close, but Florida will once again pull away late. Their senior leadership will ensure that the other younger players don't take Tennessee too lightly.
The other semifinal game is a little bit easier to predict.
Kentucky and Georgia played once this year, with the Wildcats beating the Bulldogs by 25 points in Lexington.
Although these teams had identical 12-6 records in the SEC, Georgia ranks 69th in Pomeroy's rankings, compared to 22nd for Kentucky. The Bulldogs failed to record a signature win, while the Wildcats defeated Louisville and Tennessee at home.
Kentucky has the talent to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. On paper, Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein are a solid core of players. Unfortunately, inexperience has led to some inconsistent performances, especially in the team's biggest games.
John Calipari, though, commended his players on how hard they approached practice before the win over LSU on Friday, per Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
Cal says Cats "went longer than I've ever coached at this time of year" in practice this week. Even went hard today before game.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 15, 2014
The team also had a ritualistic shredding of the DVDs from the regular season:
Before UK came to Atlanta, Cal gathered the team in the film room and the players took turns ceremonially shredding game DVDs of the year.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 15, 2014
Randle on shredding the DVDs: "It made a lot of sense. Time to move on. It’s a new season."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) March 15, 2014
Kentucky is saving its best basketball for March, and you're going to see it on Saturday. The Wildcats will take control of this game from the tipoff.