SEC Basketball Tournament 2011: Who Needs to Win to Make the Big Dance?
The SEC Tournament kicks off on Thursday and the conference is separated into three different types of teams.
Teams that will make the NCAA tournament no matter what they do, teams that won't make the NCAA tournament without winning the championship and teams in the middle.
For some of these teams, the SEC tournament is a chance for them to make their move, while for others it is a chance to fall flat on their face and leave a bad taste in the committee's mouth.
The following slide show includes every team in the SEC and what they need to do to go dancing.
Feel free to comment below with your own opinion.
Teams That Are a Lock
Florida Gators- The Gators are currently ranked No. 12 in the country, and depending on how they do in the SEC tournament, they could earn a 3-seed. Florida has been near perfect throughout much of SEC play and has taken down a few ranked teams on its way to a 24-6 record.
Kentucky Wildcats- The Wildcats are ranked No. 16 in the country and have finished off the season strong with wins against Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. The Wildcats managed to stay undefeated at home all season and went 22-8 overall.
Vanderbilt Commodores- One of the best offensive teams in the nation, the Commodores will be dancing. They finished off the season on the wrong note, with two straight loses, but even a loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament wont keep them out of the big dance. Vanderbilt is 21-9 overall.
Teams That Must Win the SEC Championship
LSU Tigers- No one is planning on seeing the Tigers in the NCAA tournament after an awful season in which they went 3-13 in conference play. Throw in bad loses to Coastal Carolina, Nicholas and Rice, and you can see why the Tigers are done for the season after the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina Gamecocks- The Gamecocks were only a tad better than LSU in SEC play, going 5-11. The Gamecocks actually looked like a contender for some of the season with impressive wins over Vanderbilt and Florida, but they ended on the wrong note, winning two of their last 12 games.
Auburn Tigers- It's a good thing the Tigers are still celebrating their BCS Championship, because they won't be dancing anytime soon with their basketball team. Auburn went 4-12 in the SEC and 11-19 overall. Embarrassing loses include UNC Asheville, Samford, Campbell and Presbyterian, all at home.
Arkansas Razorbacks- The Razorbacks actually had an alright year, only losing three out-of-conference games and going 7-9 in the SEC. That being said I still think they would need to win the tournament in order to make up for being swept by Mississippi and Mississippi State. If they were to lose in the finals they might be able to slide onto the edge of the bubble.
Mississippi Rebels- The Rebels are actually in a very similar spot as Arkansas, with three loses out-of-conference and a 7-9 conference record. The problem with both these teams is they don't play in a good enough conference where going under .500 will get you on the bubble. Two loses to Mississippi State also don't help.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The only reason I did not include Mississippi State in the previous slide is because they have a winning record in conference play, going 9-7.
The biggest problem with Mississippi State is they have beat no one, with their only good conference win coming at Tennessee.
Losses to East Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic are not as bad as they sound, but they certainly won't help the Bulldogs either.
Mississippi State is going to need to beat Vanderbilt on Friday and either Florida or Tennessee on Saturday if they want a shot at a NCAA bid.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama has put itself in a good position after a very successful year.
The Crimson Tide went 20-14 overall and won the SEC West with a 12-4 conference mark.
The team is lead by two stars in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, both of whom average over 15 points and seven rebounds a game.
Alabama has two strong wins in a home victory over Kentucky and an away victory at Tennessee. The problem for the Tide is after that, there is a big drop off.
Alabama will help its case with a win over another bubble team in Georgia Friday and would clinch its position in the NCAA tournament with a win over Kentucky on Saturday.
Georgia is another team that controls its own fate after going 20-10 in the regular season. Maybe even more impressive than that record is the fact that they went 9-7 in a very tough SEC East.
Like Alabama, Georgia has a dynamic duo in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, both of whom average over 14 points a game and seven rebounds.
In what seems to be a pattern throughout the league, Georgia has wins at Tennessee and at home against Kentucky.
Georgia is 5-10 against the RPI top 100, which does not look good in the committee's eyes.
The Bulldogs must win Thursday against Auburn, and if they follow that up with a win against Alabama I think that may be enough to push them in. A win against Kentucky on Saturday would all but clinch it.
Tennessee is one of the toughest teams to figure out on the bubble because while they only went 8-8 in conference play, they are still a 7-seed in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology.
Tennessee did beat in-state rival Vanderbilt twice, which are their two biggest conference wins.
Most importantly for the Volunteers is they beat potential No. 1 seed Pittsburgh and Big East program Villanova at the beginning of the year.
Scotty Hopson is a great player for the Vols, and as a team, they will go as he goes.
I think just a win over Arkansas on Thursday will be enough to push the Vols in, but if Tennessee fans want to really feel safe about their future then a win over Florida on Friday would do just that.