SEC Tournament Predictions
With conference play in the books, the SEC Tournament is set. This event starts on Wednesday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, March 17. It will take place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Florida won the regular season title by two games to earn the top seed and a bye into the quarterfinals. No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 4 Alabama will also receive byes through the first two rounds.
All three of these teams are fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives and may not be able to afford losing their first game of the SEC Tourney. No. 5 Tennessee and No. 7 Arkansas are each fighting to make the Big Dance as well. Anyone else would have to win the whole thing to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Without further ado, here are my SEC Tournament picks for each round.
First Round – Wednesday, March 13 (SEC Network)
7:30 EST – No. 12 South Carolina (14-17) vs. No. 13 Mississippi State (9-21) – Home team won both regular season meetings with the Bulldogs winning 56-54 on January 9th, and the Gamecocks proving victorious 79-72 on March 6th. Mississippi State has been the punching bag of the SEC all season. South Carolina is the superior team and gets a victory in the grudge match.
10:00 EST – No. 11 Texas A&M (17-14) vs. No. 14 Auburn (9-22) – The Aggies won their lone meeting with the Tigers 65-56 on the road on February 20th. You would be hard-pressed to find a better No. 11 seed in any conference tournament than Texas A&M. I have the Aggies advancing with ease in the opening round.
Second Round – Thursday, March 14 (SEC Network)
1:00 EST – No. 8 Georgia (15-16) vs. No. 9 LSU (18-11) – The Bulldogs won their regular season meeting 67-58 at home on January 19th. Georgia has played really well down the stretch, winning eight of its last 13 games overall with all five losses during this stretch coming by 10 points or less. I like the Bulldogs to stay hot in the SEC Tournament with a victory over LSU.
3:30 EST – No. 5 Tennessee (19-11) vs. No. 12 South Carolina – The Volunteers won at South Carolina 66-61 on February 10th in their lone meeting during the regular season. Tennessee has played its way into the NCAA Tournament by winning eight of its last nine games overall. It is not going to give the committee any reason to leave it out of the Big Dance by losing to the Gamecocks. The Vols roll.
7:30 EST – No. 7 Arkansas (19-12) vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt (14-16) – The home team won both meetings in blowout fashion. The Razorbacks trounced Vanderbilt 56-33 on January 12th, but the Commodores would have their revenge with a 67-49 triumph on February 9th. Arkansas still has a shot at making the NCAA Tournament, thus I am picking it to beat Vanderbilt in this contest.
10:00 EST – No. 6 Missouri (22-9) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M – The Tigers lost their only meeting with the Aggies this season on the road by a final of 68-70. It was just one of several close losses for Missouri this season, which is why it is only a No. 6 seed in this tournament. However, I believe the Tigers are the second-best team in the SEC, and that will show with a dominant victory over Texas A&M in the second round.
Quarterfinals – Friday, March 15 (ESPNU)
1:00 EST – No. 1 Florida (24-6) vs. No. 8 Georgia – The Gators won both meetings with the Bulldogs convincingly with a 77-44 home victory on January 9th, and a 64-47 triumph on the road on January 23rd. I don’t see any reason for that to change when these teams meet up for a third time in the quarterfinals.
3:30 EST – No. 4 Alabama (20-11) vs. No. 5 Tennessee – This was a very closely-contested series in the regular season. The home team won both meetings with Alabama edging Tennessee 68-65 on January 12th, and the Vols getting payback by a final of 54-53 on January 26th. I just believe that Tennessee is playing the better basketball right now having won eight of their last nine games to finish the regular season, thus I’m taking the Vols.
7:30 EST – No. 2 Kentucky (21-10) vs. No. 7 Arkansas – The Razorbacks beat the Wildcats 73-60 at home in their lone meeting of the season on March 2nd. It’s payback time for Kentucky, which has won four of its last five, including victories over both Florida and Missouri despite playing without Nerlens Noel.
10:00 EST – No. 3 Ole Miss (23-8) vs. No. 6 Missouri – The home team won both meetings with room to spare during the regular season. Ole Miss beat Missouri 64-49 on January 12th, while the Tigers had their revenge with a 93-75 triumph on February 9th. Missouri is the superior team and I have it advancing to the semifinals.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 16 (ABC)
1:00 EST – No. 1 Florida vs. No. 5 Tennessee – The Vols upset the Gators 64-58 on February 26th at home in their only meeting of the regular season. While Tennessee keeps it close, I like Florida to prevail in the rematch.
3:30 EST – No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Missouri – The Wildcats won a 90-83 (OT) thriller over the Tigers at home in their lone meeting on February 23rd. Missouri loves to attack the rim, and without Noel, I look for it to get plenty of easy buckets in the paint. The Tigers get revenge in the rematch.
Championship – Sunday, March 17 (ABC)
1:00 EST – No. 1 Florida vs. No. 6 Missouri – The home team won both meetings during the regular season. Florida thumped Missouri 83-52 on January 19th, but lost in Columbia on February 19th by a final of 63-60. The Gators have been the best team in the SEC all season and that will prove to be the case as they win the SEC Tournament as well.