SEC Tournament 2021: Full Schedule and Complete Bracket PredictionsMarch 2, 2021
SEC Tournament 2021: Full Schedule and Complete Bracket Predictions
This is typically the time of year when Kentucky begins making a strong push into the SEC tournament. The Wildcats have won the tourney 31 times (including four straight from 2015 to 2018), while no other SEC team has won it more than six times.
But this hasn't been a typical year in the SEC. Kentucky has struggled for much of the 2020-21 season, while other conference teams have ascended to the top of the standings. Alabama has already secured its first regular-season championship since 2002, while Arkansas has also emerged as a top team.
Anything can happen once the SEC tournament arrives, though. This year's edition is set to take place from March 10 to 14 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. A champion will be crowned for the first time since 2019, as last year's tournament wasn't completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's a look at this year's tourney schedule, followed by some predictions for how things will unfold.
SEC Tournament Schedule
First Round (March 10)
Game 1: No. 12 seed vs. No. 13 seed, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Second Round (March 11)
Game 2: No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed, noon ET, SEC Network
Game 3: No. 5 seed vs. Game 1 winner, 2 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Game 4: No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Game 5: No. 6 seed vs. No. 11 seed, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Quarterfinals (March 12)
Game 6: No. 1 seed vs. Game 2 winner, noon ET, ESPN
Game 7: No. 4 seed vs. Game 3 winner, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 8: No. 2 seed vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Game 9: No. 3 seed vs. Game 5 winner, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Semifinals (March 13)
Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 11: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN
Championship (March 14)
Game 12: Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Alabama Rolls as No. 1 Seed, Wins Tourney Title
It's already been a special season for Alabama, which is 19-6 and ranked No. 8 in the AP Top 25 poll. With only two regular-season games remaining (Tuesday vs. Auburn and Saturday at Georgia), the Crimson Tide have an opportunity to win 16 conference games for only the second time in program history (and for the first time since 1986-87).
Not only that, but Alabama could be on its way to winning the SEC tournament for the seventh time. The Tide haven't won the conference tourney since winning it three straight times from 1989 to 1991.
While continuing to rack up wins against SEC opponents, Alabama has dominated the glass, averaging 40.4 rebounds per game, second-most in the conference. That's helped it rank third in the SEC in points per game (79.6) despite sitting 11th in field-goal percentage (43.0).
Most importantly, the Crimson Tide know how to pull out close wins. And that's going to be useful when the stakes are raised.
Alabama should continue to play the way it has for most of the regular season, and in a year in which many of the typically strong SEC programs have struggled, that will be enough to win the conference tournament and secure a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Florida Gets Revenge Against Arkansas to Reach Finals
Arkansas' final two regular-season games are against South Carolina and Texas A&M, which are both near the bottom of the SEC standings, so the Razorbacks should secure the No. 2 seed for the SEC tournament. Florida, which is currently in third with a 9-5 conference record and has its last two games against Missouri and Tennessee, is likely to be the No. 3 seed.
That means the Razorbacks and Gators could end up playing each other for a second time this season in the semifinals of the SEC tournament.
If both teams avoid an upset, expect Florida to get revenge against Arkansas for the first meeting between the two teams, which ended in a 75-64 home win for the Razorbacks. Since then, Florida has won three straight games, and it could be on a five-game win streak heading into the SEC tournament.
The Gators are shooting an SEC-best 46.8 percent from the field this season, and that efficiency should bode well for them in the conference tourney. While they'll come up short against Alabama in the championship game, they'll still have an impressive run to reach that point.
Kentucky Fails to Reach Semifinals for First Time Since 2013
Although Kentucky didn't win the last completed SEC tournament in 2019, it still reached the semifinals after having won the tourney title each of the previous four years. It's been rare for the Wildcats to not make a run in the conference tournament in recent years, as the last time they didn't reach the semifinals was when they got upset by Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals in 2013.
But Kentucky has struggled this season, going 7-8 in conference play thus far. That included a stretch in which it lost seven of eight games from Jan. 12 to Feb. 9. The Wildcats won three in a row after that, but then they lost to Florida on Saturday.
Currently, Kentucky would be the No. 8 seed in the SEC tourney. It could lose at Ole Miss on Tuesday, but it should win its regular-season finale against South Carolina at home on Saturday.
Still, the Wildcats are going to have a tough path if they hope to get to the semifinals in this year's tournament (and deeper). And while they'll win one game, they're going to face a tough team in the quarterfinals that will prevent them from making it any further.