The NCAA season has reached it first round of the postseason. With the regular season now in the books, we are in the heart of the conference tournaments. Come Wednesday, March 8th (aka today), a good majority of the conferences will have started their respective tournaments. Several tickets have already have been punched, with more to come each and every day in the coming week.
One of the tournaments that will be tipping off for the first time on Wednesday will be the SEC Conference Tournament. Here at INSC we have you covered, with predictions down below. This tourney will conclude on Sunday, March 12th.
You can check out the seedings and a link to the bracket below.
(4) South Carolina
(6) Ole Miss
(10) Texas A&M
(12) Mississippi State
The SEC was once again dominated by the likes of Kentucky and Florida. Real shocker there. But before they get the chance to play, we need to go through two rounds of games. The first round will consist of two games. First up we will have LSU and Mississippi State, with the winner getting Alabama. Then we have Auburn and Missouri, with the winner going on to face Ole Miss. I am calling for Mississippi State 77-68 and Auburn 80-74.
This moves us into round two, which will lead us into the quarterfinals. These four games will be Georgia-Tennesee, Miss State-Alabama, Vanderbilt-Texas A&M, Auburn-Ole Miss. They will get to face off against the likes of Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas. My projections in this round are Tennessee 73-71, Alabama 72-70, Vandy 72-70 and Ole Miss 83-79.
In their opening game, Kentucky will be facing off against Tennessee. This is one of those games that should not be all that competitive. Kentucky is a class above the Vols. There is no real reason to expect Coach Calipari’s to fall in this one. Give me Kentucky 85-73 in this one.
South Carolina will be tasked with Alabama in their opening game. Overall, this is a pretty close game when you look at the numbers. But there is one major difference. South Carolina holds the edge from beyond the three-point line, both offensively and defensively. For that reason alone, they will come out on top. Give me SC 70-67 to move on to face Kentucky.
Florida vs Vandy will be the third game of the quarterfinals. Like the opening game, I do not see this one as being very close. Florida knows how to create possessions, while Vanderbilt tends to give up more possessions than it can create. That alone will be enough to give the win to the Gators. So I am giving the win to Florida 78-70.
Ole Miss continues on to get Arkansas in final game in the quarterfinals. This one sets up to be a highly entertaining game, in terms of it being close. These clubs are fairly equal in many aspects. Arkansas has the edge offensively, but Ole Miss has the edge defensively. Both clubs can shoot their free throws. And both teams can create about two possessions a game. But in this one, I think the slight edge goes to Ole Miss, who I am taking 80-78.
Semi-final number one will pit the Kentucky Wildcats against South Carolina. Kentucky is an Elite Eight quality team. South Carolina however, is a team who could fall in the opening weekend. The clear edge goes to Kentucky and their talented pool of youngsters. I am going with Kentucky here, 78-71.
The round out the semis, we have Florida and Ole Miss. Like Kentucky, Florida is hands down above their opponents. The Gators have had an impressive run this season, while Ole Miss is barely holding onto the bubble. These tournaments are usually built on upsets, but it won’t happen here. Give me the Gators 80-74.
That gives us a final between the two powerhouses of the SEC. Kentucky takes on Florida in the game everyone wants to see if they are a fan of the conference. Both teams have had extremely strong seasons. If you asked me earlier in the season, I would have told you I’d take Florida. But Kentucky has been growing on me of late. Give me the Wildcats for the automatic bid, 79-76.
So what do you think? Who will emerge with a NCAA Tournament bid? Will it be an upset, or will the top seed claim their auto bid? Tell us in the comments!