SEC basketball has entered the final stretch of conference play, and last week we posed one question that needs to be answered for each team. Today we have the answers for you.
Alabama—Anthony Grant’s team has won the SEC West title. Will they have done enough at the end of the season to get a bid to the Big Dance?
Answer: Alabama lost too many out-of-conference games and have not played well in their last three games. Better days are ahead for Alabama, as long as Anthony Grant is around, but this year it will take reaching the SEC tournament finals to get Bama in.
Arkansas—Beating Kentucky was big for Arkansas, the win at Auburn was a push and the loss to Mississippi State last night was tough for Hog fans who hoped the team had turned a corner. Coach John Pelphrey has a boatload of talented recruits coming to Fayetteville next year. Will Arkansas let him return next season or cut him loose at the end of this season?
Answer: Some are saying it is over, and the loss to Mississippi State did not help Pelphrey’s case. The win over Kentucky might have been enough to save his job. Next year there better be people sitting in Bud Walton Arena if he wants to get past that.
Auburn—The Tigers are 9-17 overall, but took wins over Florida State and Mississippi State. Auburn played Arkansas and Alabama close, only to lose at the end. Last night’s comeback win over Ole Miss is a real positive. Did Auburn move the ball forward in basketball this season?
Answer: Auburn people keep talking about how excited they are about their basketball future with Barbee at the helm. This year, Auburn has won three conference games, neither of them against Alabama. Last year, they won six and split with Bama. Our call? No.
Florida—Florida has been just about what people expected this year. Will they be able to exceed those expectations in the NCAA Tournament?
Answer: Look for Florida to be an Elite Eight team—that would mean it has been a good year.
Georgia—When last season ended, Georgia fans were happy with Mark Fox as their head coach. Do they still think he's the man for the future of Georgia basketball?
Answer: They should. Georgia only has one bad loss—to Xavier—this year.
LSU—Remember when the Tigers were one of the feature programs in the SEC? When will LSU be a player in the conference again?
Answer: Three years after coach Trent Johnson is gone.
Kentucky—The safe bet is that Kentucky’s top two scorers (Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight) head to the NBA at the end of the season. Most don’t believe Doron Lamb will, but the possibility remains that he could turn pro as well. Is there a point at which Kentucky basketball fans grow tired of being more like a summer travel team than the Wildcats of old?
Answer: When the exodus occurs this season, a small stir will begin. When it happens in the third year it will become a lot louder. The unanswered question: When will Calipari bail? Count on him to leave a mess in his wake, even without NCAA issues.
Mississippi State—Renardo Sidney has been a difficult player for Rick Stansbury, but his coach has stood beside him through all the problems. Will Sidney reward Stansbury’s loyalty and return for a second season in Starkville?
Answer: Sidney has potential, but he is not mature enough for the rigors of NBA life. If he is getting good advice, then he will be back. Never count on anyone giving unbiased counsel to high school or college basketball players regarding the NBA. Never count on loyalty when it comes to money calling out to a player or coach.
Ole Miss—Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy talked about how his team needed to relax and stop “foaming at the mouth” prior to their game with Mississippi State. After losing to the Bulldogs 71-58, do you think he might want them to start again?
Answer: After beating the Bulldogs, Ole Miss lost to South Carolina. They followed that up by beating Alabama with tough defense and timely scoring. Last night’s loss to Auburn was a disaster. He is better off with the guys who foam at the mouth.
South Carolina—The Gamecocks can grab offensive rebounds and block shots. How is it possible for them to be dead last in the conference in defensive rebounding?
Answer: A great unknown, given that offensive rebounds are typically more about hard work than ones that come on defense.
Tennessee—Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was suspended for the balance of a season when it was determined he lied to NCAA investigators. Why was Pearl not suspended for the season, and how did Pearl manage to not be fired by Tennessee’s leadership?
Answer: If Pearl is still the coach at Tennessee next year then someone needs to fire Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton.
Vanderbilt—The Commodores have been ranked for five straight weeks now. Can Vandy get past the first round of the NCAA Tournament this year?
Answer: Most experts believe the Commodores will be a 5-seed. You can count on one 5-seed being beat by a 12-seed every year. If Vandy is a 5-seed, then give them a 60 percent chance of making it past opening day of the Big Dance.