The 2017 SEC men's basketball tournament doesn't provide as much intrigue as previous years (at least on paper). Barring a big upset, the teams that will emerge from this conference to participate in the NCAA tournament are all but set, at least according to ESPN's Andy Katz:
Still, this is March we are talking about, and the SEC once had a last-place team win the tournament (Georgia, in 2008), so anything can happen.
Below you'll find the SEC tournament schedule, bracket and a quick preview and prediction.
|Wednesday, March 8||7 p.m.||1||First||No. 13 LSU vs. No. 12 Mississippi Sate||SEC Network|
|Wednesday, March 8||25 minutes after Game 1||2||First||No. 14 Missouri vs. No. 11 Auburn||SEC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||1 p.m.||3||Second||No. 9 Tennessee vs. No. 8 Georgia||SEC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||25 minutes after Game 3||4||Second||Game 1 winner vs. No. 5 Alabama||SEC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||7 p.m.||5||Second||No. 10 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt||SEC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||25 minutes after Game 5||6||Second||Game 2 winner vs. No. 6 Ole Miss||SEC Network|
|Friday, March 10||1 p.m.||7||Quarterfinals||Game 3 winner vs. No. 1 Kentucky||SEC Network|
|Friday, March 10||25 minutes after Game 8||8||Quarterfinals||Game 4 winner vs. No. 4 South Carolina||SEC Network|
|Friday, March 10||7 p.m.||9||Quarterfinals||Game 5 winner vs. No. 2 Florida||SEC Network|
|Friday, March 10||25 minutes after Game 9||10||Quarterfinals||Game 6 winner vs. No. 3 Arkansas||SEC Network|
|Saturday, March 11||1 p.m.||11||Semifinals||Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner||ESPN|
|Saturday, March 11||25 minutes after Game 11||12||Semifinals||Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner||ESPN|
|Sunday, March 12||1 p.m.||13||Final||Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner||ESPN|
Odds via BetOnline (h/t OddsShark)
As the odds suggest, two teams are favorites to the win this tournament, with three others having outside shots at playing the dark horse.
It'd be a surprise if UK doesn't come away with the SEC title, however. The Wildcats have two of the best players in the country in guards De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, who will all but certainly be picked in the top half of the NBA draft (perhaps even the top 10).
UK is also a well-rounded team, as it stands as only one of two squads with top-15 rankings in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per the Ken Pomeroy rankings. The other is Gonzaga.
Speaking of those rankings, Florida has enjoyed a resurgent season, thanks to an elite defense that Pomeroy ranks fourth in the nation, after failing to make the NCAA tournament last year.
Senior guard Kasey Hill is the key for this team. He can do a little of everything as this stat suggests:
Hill knows a thing or two about being part of a winning team, as he was a key member of the rotation on the 2013-14 Gators, which went undefeated through SEC play and made the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion UConn.
Like Hill, South Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell can do a little of everything, except he's doing so on an incredible scale this year. Thornwell finished with 21.2 points (second in the SEC), 7.3 rebounds (sixth in the SEC) and 2.2 steals (first in the SEC). He's scored at least 21 points in seven of the Gamecocks' eight games to close the regular season.
The problem with the Gamecocks right now is that they are cold heading into postseason play, losing five of their last eight games.
On the flip side, the Arkansas Razorbacks have finished strong, winning five of their last six and earning the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament. Arkansas has a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging between 12 and 15 points per game. Senior guard Dusty Hannahs leads the way with 14.6 points a game.
While those four teams are strong, Vanderbilt might be the most dangerous team right now. It just beat Florida on Saturday, 73-71, and took UK to the limit, losing 73-67 in Lexington after blowing a 19-point lead in the first half.
The Commodores have won five of their last six (their only loss being that defeat to UK) and, like Arkansas, feature a balanced scoring attack, with four players putting up between 10 and 14 points a game.
UK is going to have to play two tough games in the semifinals and final, but in the end, take the Wildcats to beat the Gators for the SEC title.
As for the other three teams mentioned, Arkansas will lose to Florida in the semifinals, Vandy will beat Texas A&M before losing to the Gators in the quarterfinals, and South Carolina will defeat Alabama before losing to UK in the semifinals.