SEC Tournament Predictions
The SEC Tournament is scheduled to run from Wednesday, March 12 through Sunday, March 16. It will take place in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with a serious home-court advantage going to the Bulldogs, who surprised everyone and earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament. They will get a bye into the quarterfinals along with Florida (1), Kentucky (2) and Tennessee (4).
It’s amazing that the top-ranked team in the country (Florida) comes from what is considered as the weakest among the BCS conferences. In fact, no SEC team outside of the Gators, and perhaps Kentucky, is a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas may still need to impress to earn a trip to the big dance.
Even though Georgia is a No. 3 seed, it may need to earn the conference’s automatic bid to make the field of 68. It really struggled in the non-conference before turning it on in SEC play. I’m going to go through and provide a look at the favorite, my value play, and my sleeper pick to win the 2014 SEC Tournament.
SEC Tournament Bracket
The Favorite: Florida (-120)
The Gators (29-2, 18-0) are the odds-on favorite to win the SEC Tournament for good reason. They went unbeaten in conference play this season, and as a result, they are likely to get the No. 1 overall seed in the big dance as well. They are expected to have little trouble getting through a watered-down field in this conference tournament.
Florida’s versatility defensively makes it a tough matchup. It has proven capable of playing man-to-man, a 2-3 zone, and a 1-3-1 zone at a high level. It can also press when need be to mix things up. While the Gators lack an NBA-type scorer, they have a balanced attack that has no liabilities offensively at any position.
Casey Prather (14.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) can fill it up when he wants to, and he shoots a ridiculous 62.5 percent from the field. Michael Frazier III (12.9 ppg) is connecting on 44.1 percent from 3-point range. Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 ppg, 3.9 apg) has become one of the most clutch scorers in the country. Patric Young (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Dorian Finney-Smith (9.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Will Yuguete (5.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) do the dirty work inside.
The Value Play: Tennessee (+550)
The Volunteers (20-11, 11-7) are the second-best team in this field in my opinion. They played a brutal non-conference schedule that featured road loses at Wichita State and Xavier in games they were competitive in, losing by by single-digits. They dominated Virginia (87-52) at home, and ended the season red hot by winning four straight, including the last three over Vanderbilt (76-38), Auburn (82-54) and Missouri (72-45) in blowout fashion.
This is a veteran bunch that returned a lot of talent from a team that beat Florida twice last year, though they lost to the Gators in both meetings this year. Jordan McRae (18.8 ppg) is a pure scorer, while Jarnell Stokes (14.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and Jeronne Maymon (10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) are tough to deal with inside. This trio is capable of leading the Vols to an upset win over Florida in the semifinals and being crowned conference champs.
The Sleeper: Georgia (+2500)
These are tremendous odds on the home team Bulldogs, who have a bye into the quarterfinals. That’s a huge advantage here, and one that could certainly come into play with a possible semifinal showdown against Kentucky, which is vulnerable this season. Georgia (18-12, 12-6) went just 6-6 in non-conference action before winning 67% of its SEC contests. Its players really laid it all on the line for head coach Mark Fox in the second half of the season.
Fox lost his father prior to the Missouri game on January 8, and the Bulldogs proceeded to win four of their next five games. They would also close out the season by winning eight of their final 10 contests. Charles Mann (13.4 ppg) and Kenny Gaines (13.4 ppg) are two of the best players in this tournament. Look out for the Bulldogs at this tremendous price of +2500 over the next few days.
Odds to Win SEC Tournament