The second day of the 2011 SEC tournament gets under way Friday. Florida plays Tennessee for the third time this year at 7:30 EST.
Tennessee moves on after having enough of a lead against Arkansas Thursday night to withstand a 16-0 run late in the second half.
Kentucky meets Ole Miss at 3:30. John Calipari goes for his second straight SEC championship.
Mississippi State plays Vanderbilt for the late game at 10:00.
Auburn and Georgia play an elimination game with the loser missing the NCAA Tournament.
Let's check out today's four games and some predictions.
Record: 20-10 (9-7 SEC)
Alabama Crimson Tide
Record: 20-10 (12-4 SEC)
The loser of this game will be eliminated from consideration for the NCAA Tournament according to Joe Lunardi.
Playing in the pathetic SEC West hurts Alabama's RPI. If Georgia wins, they should be a lock whereas Alabama might need to win another game to get into the tourney.
Previous Game: These two teams met not too long ago in Tuscaloosa. On the fifth of this month, Alabama beat Georgia 65-57 behind 19 points and 9 rebounds from JaMychal Green to go along with Charvez Davis and his four 3-pointers.
Prediction: I think Alabama wins this one 65-58 this time. Alabama plays with good defense and shot selection.
Record: 22-8 (10-6 SEC)
Record: 19-12 (7-9 SEC)
John Calipari tries for his second SEC championship. We know how good Kentucky is at home. How will they do in a more neutral environment? I'm sure the Wildcats will still enjoy a supportive crowd with the way their fans travel.
Previous Game: Ole Miss upset the Kentucky Wildcats back on Feb. 1st when Kentucky was ranked number ten in the nation. The Wildcats shot well and out-rebounded Mississippi but were doomed by 18 turnovers. Chris Warren had 22 for the Rebels while Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb scored 22 and 20, respectively, for Kentucky.
Prediction: Kentucky rolls 70-53. Big games for Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones.
Record: 17-13 (9-7 SEC)
Record: 21-9 (9-7 SEC)
Kevin Stallings looks to get his team on a roll heading into the NCAA tourney.
Previous Game: Back on Jan. 27th. Jeff Taylor scored 25 and John Jenkins had 21 for the Commodores as they won for the first time in Starkville since 1993. Mississippit State had a 37-34 lead but Vanderbilt's full court press forced several turnovers late to give Vandy the win.
Prediction: Vandy 77-74. Mississippi State hangs tough.
Record: 24-6 (13-3 SEC)
Record: 18-13 (8-8 SEC)
If Florida ends up winning the SEC tournament, it will probably look back on this game as its biggest challenge. It will be thier toughest game of the tournament. Florida is playing Tennessee for the third time after beating them twice.
Tennessee will have more to play for in this game. Not only are they playing for the SEC Championship, they're playing to move up from the the 10 seed they're projected to be in the NCAA Tournament. Even if Florida wins out, they still wouldn't move from a three to a two seed according to Joe Lunardi.
It may be an old tradition thats fueling the Gators now. Donovan talked to his team about cutting down the nets. Florida's seniors have not had that experience and they only have three more opportunities to achieve it. The SEC Championship, the Final Four, and the NCAA Championship.
Tennessee looked good against Arkansas. They were up big even with Scotty Hopson only taking three shots early in the second half. Offensive rebounding was huge for the Vols and they were on such a roll that Brian Williams even drained a three, his first attempt all season. They built a large enough lead that they were able to withstand an Arkansas 16-0 run late. It was a case of Tennessee getting lazy on the defensive side with a big lead.
Previous Games: The Florida - Tennessee basketball rivalry has been must see TV since Bruce Pearl took over coaching duties in 2005. As usual, both of thier games this year were close. Florida beat Tennessee in Knoxville on 1/11/11 in an overtime thriller 81-75. All five Gator starters scored in double figures in that game and Florida shot 50% from 3 point range. Scotty Hopson had 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist.
On Feb 12th Florida edged out the Vols 61-60 on a Erving Walker lay-up with 14 seconds left. Florida won after playing from behind most of the game. Scotty Hopson scored 22 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Though Hopson has scored 20 plus in each game, he wasn't that much of an impact in the games. In the most recent game, he was shut down late by Scottie Wilbekin.
Prediction: I did predict Florida to win at least one game in my previous article so I'll go Florida 75-70. The keys will be defending Scotty Hopson and how well Florida does with their fouling and foul shooting.