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2020 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview

2021 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview

The SEC Basketball Tournament seeds have been set as the SEC postseason gets started at Bridgestone Arena. Many teams’ tournament hopes hang in the balance. The madness begins Wednesday and a handful of teams will be hoping the slipper that gets them into the NCAA Tournament fits.

The Bracket

2021 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview

The top four seeds go to Kentucky, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State. Kentucky and LSU get the double-bye once again as they did in the 2019 tournament. Mississippi State slides in as the final top seed, winning the tiebreaker over Florida.

Kentucky once again is the favorite to win. They opened as +150 followed by Auburn at +275. Florida has the next best odds at +400 despite having to play an extra game. Auburn won the tournament in 2019 and will be hoping to defend their title.

Bubble Teams That Need to Win

As of right now, the SEC has only 4 teams that should be locks for the NCAA Tournament. Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology has:

  • (2) Kentucky
  • (5) Auburn
  • (8) LSU
  • (9) Florida
  • Next Four Out: Mississippi State

Only four teams are comfortably in the tournament, a stark contrast from a year ago. 2019 had six teams in the tournament heading into the Wednesday night games. Mississippi State is the only team as a true bubble this season.

Only one other team has a real shot at making the bubble in Arkansas. It may be too late for teams like Tennessee, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Alabama. March will bring the madness and if any of those teams can make a deep run they may find themselves cheering on Selection Sunday.

(14) Vanderbilt 11-20 (3-15) vs (11) Arkansas 19-12 (7-11), Wednesday 9pm ET

This is a game Arkansas absolutely has to win and one they should have no trouble winning. Arkansas needed a run in last year’s tournament and came out of the gate cold as they got dominated by Florida. That can’t happen this year if they want to make the tournament.

Vanderbilt is as favorable a matchup they could hope for in round one. They have been awful this season, amounting just three conference wins. The only bright spot is that they’re as hot as a team like Vanderbilt can be right now. They’ve strung off back to back conference wins for the first time in nearly three years and could give Arkansas troubles.

(9) Alabama 16-15 (8-10) vs (8) Tennessee 17-14 (9-9), Thursday 1pm ET
2021 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview
Sophomore Mason Jones was names AP Co-SEC Player of the Year. (Photo by arkansasrazorbacks.com).

The bubble battles continue Thursday in game one with Alabama and Tennessee. A week ago Alabama had a good shot at making a run at the tournament. But a two-game losing streak to lowly Vanderbilt and Missouri has them far outside the bubble.

On the flipside, Tennessee is suddenly showing signs of a little run to end the season. They got big wins over Florida and Kentucky to end the season giving them a .500 conference record. It will take a lot to put themselves in the tournament but it’s not outside of reason to think they can’t string together a little three-game winning streak.

(4) Mississippi State 20-11 (11-7) vs TBD, Friday 3pm ET

Mississippi State will have to win this game if they want to be comfortable over the weekend. They’ll get the winner of Florida and either Georgia or Ole Miss. It is likely they’ll get Florida which is a team they were able to beat in the regular season.

A 1-1 showing in the SEC Tournament is possibly enough to get the Bulldogs in the tournament. They’ll want that win against Florida to boost their RPI. They have an 11-7 conference record which normally can be enough to make the tournament, but the SEC has been down this year and there is still work left to do for Mississippi State.

Teams to Watch

Arkansas, 19-12 (7-11)

For a team that started as hot as any team in the country, it might be surprising for the Razorbacks to find themselves in their current situation. They absolutely have to string together a series of wins to get an at large bid.

Arkansas started 12-1 but finished the season on a 7-12 skid. They quickly got themselves out of the NCAA Tournament conversation after a rough five-game losing streak halfway through conference play. The injury to Isaiah Joe during that time was felt on a large magnitude.

Their path starts with Vanderbilt – a should be win. They’ll get South Carolina next, a team they lost to at home in the regular season in a two-point loss. Should they get by the Gamecocks they’ll face the three seed in LSU in a rematch from a week ago. They’ve proven they can beat LSU before and might need to do so again to get three wins in the tournament and play into the NCAA Tournament.

Mississippi State, 20-11 (11-7)

Mississippi State will be laying it all on the line for their first game Friday. March can be a strange month and that applies here as it may have been more beneficial for the Bulldogs to get the five seed to add a winnable game.

As it is they absolutely need to win the first game no matter who it’s against. They’re already on the outside looking in and the margin for mistakes is zero. Ideally, a win in the semifinals will take all doubt away but even a 1-1 showing give them a good chance.

Reggie Perry will be one of the most fun players to watch in the tournament. The potential NBA player is averaging a double-double and leads the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounds. He is the heart of the team and will need to have his best games this weekend.

Auburn 25-6, (12-6)
2021 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview
Auburn won the 2019 SEC Basketball Tournament. (Photo by collegeandmagnolia.com).

Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers are the defending SEC Champions from last year. They want to defend that title in 2020 and become the first team not named Kentucky to win consecutive titles since Florida did it from 2005-2007.

A month ago Auburn was at the top of the SEC and in line for a top two or three seed in the tournament. Since that 22-2 point, the Tigers have gone 3-4 struggling mightily on the road. Over that stretch, they were 1-3 away from home with their lone win at Tennessee to finish off the season.

The wheels appear to be falling off at the worst time possible. They’ll be a team to keep an eye on. If they make a quick exit from the tournament they’re sure to be a fan favorite to pick to be upset as a five or six seed.

Kentucky 25-6 (15-3)

As always Kentucky is going to be the team to watch. The Big Blue faithful are sure to have Bridgestone Arena filled to the brim once again this year. Last year was the first time since 2013 Kentucky wasn’t in the title game and the fans want to be back.

It’s been an up and down kind of season for John Calipari’s squad. The early losses at the hands of Evansville, Utah and Ohio State left a bad taste to start the season. But they’ve figured it out through conference play, matching their 15-3 record from a year ago.

All eyes will be on the SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley. The sophomore leads the Wildcats in scoring as well as 3pt% to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

Predictions

First Round:

Game 1 (12) Ole Miss vs (13) Georgia, Wednesday 6 pm CT: Ole Miss

Game 2 (11) Arkansas vs (14) Vanderbilt, Wednesday 25min after Game 1: Arkansas

Second Round:

Game 3 (9) Alabama vs (8) Tennessee, Thursday 12 pm CT: Tennessee

Game 4 (12) Ole Miss vs (5) Florida, 25min after Game 3: Florida

Game 5 (10) Missouri vs (7) Texas A&M, Thursday 6 pm CT: Texas A&M

Game 6 (11) Arkansas vs (6) South Carolina, 25min after Game 5: Arkansas

Quarterfinals:

Game 7 (9) Tennessee vs (1) Kentucky, Friday 12 pm CT: Kentucky

Game 8 (5) Florida vs (4) Mississippi State, 25min after Game 7: Mississippi State

Game 9 (7) Texas A&M vs (2) Auburn, Friday 6 pm CT: Auburn

Game 10 (11) Arkansas vs (3) LSU, 25min after Game 9: Arkansas

Semifinals:

Game 11 (1) Kentucky vs (4) Mississippi State, Saturday 12 pm CT: Kentucky

Game 12 (11) Arkansas vs (2) Auburn, 25min after Game 11: Auburn

Championship:

Game 13 (1) Kentucky vs (2) Auburn, Sunday 12 pm CT: Kentucky

 

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