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6 SEC Teams Prepare for NCAA Tournament First Round

6 SEC Teams Prepare for NCAA Tournament First Round

Selection Sunday came and went as expected for the Southeastern Conference. Six teams in total earned bids to the big dance with just Ole Miss being left out on the bubble. The top seed was Alabama at No.2 with no teams seeded lower than No.9.

It’s a good draw for the conference. Considering one of the favorites in Kentucky isn’t present this year, six teams is a solid achievement. They’ve got a chance to do some damage in the tournament. Here is a look at each team.

No.2 Alabama (24-6)

First Round: No.15 Iona (12-5)

Of the 15 seeds you could draw Alabama arguably has the toughest. This is mainly due to one of the most famous faces of March, Rick Pitino. In his first season back since coaching Louisville, the veteran head coach has already taken his fifth team to the NCAA Tournament.

The Gaels finished the season 10-2 down the stretch. They pulled off some major upsets in their conference tournament to punch their ticket. They’re led by two talented senior guards in Isaiah Ross and Astante Gist. Down low freshman standout Nelly Junior Joseph is a force. He’s already among the best in his conference in true shooting percentage and rebounding percentage.

Overall Alabama should be fine. Their high tempo and depth sets them leagues above Iona. The Gael’s are a solid shooting team but they have little if any depth. Should the game stay high tempo with fatigue or foul troubles, Alabama will breeze by.

Second Round: No.7 UCONN/No.10 Maryland

No.3 Arkansas (22-6)

First Round: No.14 Colgate (14-1)

At first glance this is an alarming matchup. Colgate has a solid record and stands at No.9 in the NET. They blow out their opponents with 12 of their 14 wins coming by nine points or more. Like Iona they’re led by solid guard play particularly by their seniors.

However, the NET is flawed particularly in a COVID season with limited samples. Colgate only played 15 games and that against weak competition. They have no quad 1 games and are 2-0 in quad 2 – both games coming on the road against Army.

Arkansas will benefit from the same advantages Alabama holds over Iona. The Razorbacks have plenty of depth where Colgate has none. Aside from that Colgate has little size. Colgate does like to run but they primarily play four undersized guards to do it. Arkansas just needs to make sure they don’t get hot from three (3rd in 3pt%) and they should be okay.

Second Round: No.6 Texas Tech/No.11 Utah State

No.5 Tennessee (18-8)

First Round: No.12 Oregon State (17-12)

Tennessee is a team that might be in trouble. The Volunteers have stumbled down the stretch this season. They’ve failed to put together a winning streak that doesn’t include teams named “Florida” in over a month. They’ve used one of the nation’s best defenses to mask a lacking offense so it’s hard to believe the show can go on for long in the tournament.

More than that, Oregon State is on fire. If you ignore the first five games (which of course you can’t do), the Beavers resume isn’t too far behind Tennessee. Additionally, they’re 6-1 over their final seven including the three wins in the Pac-12 tournament over NCAA tournament teams UCLA, Oregon and Colorado.

This has trap game written all over it. Oregon State likes a slow tempo which plays to Tennessee’s favor. The Vols are going to need to make the most of their possessions to exploit a lackluster Beavers defense. And of course, stop Warithe Alatishe. The big man’s emergence is a big reason they’re in the tournament as he erupted for two double-doubles on the road to the Pac-12 Championship.

Second Round: No.4 Oklahoma State/No.14 Liberty

No.7 Florida (14-9)

First Round: No.10 Virginia Tech (15-6)

This is one of the better 7 vs 10 matchups, unfortunately for Florida. Virginia Tech seemed to “sneak” in to a 10 seed which was a little surprising. This is a Hokie team that’s spent most of the season inside the top 25. The same Hokie team that knocked off a fully healthy Villanova at the beginning of the season.

Virginia Tech has gone cold as March came around going 2-3 over their last five with a head scratching loss to Pittsburgh. They’re well balanced on both sides of the ball. Michigan transfer Colin Castelton is going to have a long afternoon with Hokie big man Keve Aluma. Before the ACC tournament game against UNC Aluma had scored double digits in six straight games including 29 points against Virginia and 30 against Pitt.

The good news for Florida is Tre Mann is on fire. The sophomore stepped up in a big way this season after SEC Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson was lost for the season. Mann has scored 20 or more in four straight games and is shooting 59% over that span.

Second Round: No.2 Ohio State/No.15 Oral Roberts

No.8 LSU (18-9)

First Round: No.9 St. Bonaventure (16-4)

This is an intriguing matchup in that both teams have very similar personnel. LSU essentially uses four guys to do their scoring and play the bulk of their minutes. The fifth scorer is a dart board of potentials who step up each night.

Much the same way St. Bonaventure runs five guys and that is it. They score relatively evenly and play some of the most minutes of any starting five in the country. The Bonnies run four good sized guards with an athletic five. LSU has a similar lineup but should have the size advantage because of Darius Days.

Both teams are hot right now. The Bonnies ran everyone off the court in the A10 tournament, reflecting what they’ve done for most of the season. LSU played some of their best basketball in their SEC tournament, nearly knocking off Alabama. If the Tigers can stay focused and well-coached, this game shouldn’t be an issue. But wasted possessions and lazy defense will be more than enough for the Bonnies to advance.

Second Round: No.1 Michigan/No.16 Mt. St. Mary’s or Texas Southern

No.9 Missouri (16-9)

First Round: No.8 Oklahoma (15-10)

Funny how the NCAA keeps doing this. It’s another perfect matchup between two very similar teams. Missouri finished 3-6 on the season with losses to Ole Miss twice and Georgia. Oklahoma finished 1-5 with a bad loss to Kansas State.

Two teams that started off strong to the season, spent considerable time in the rankings, only to falter in the final month. There was nearly some bubble talk for Missouri as the losses piled up. The Tigers benefited from a strong non conference resume from the beginning of the year, mainly wins against Illinois and Oregon.

Missouri’s going to need to rely on their senior leadership to find some consistency that they’ve lost since early on in the season. Jeremiah Tilmon stands as the lone player on the roster who’s seen the NCAA Tournament. He’s had a quiet end to the year and will need to step up in the tournament. The Tigers will benefit from Oklahoma being without their second leading scorer De’Vion Harmon due to COVID-19.

Second Round: No.1 Gonzaga/No.16 Norfolk St. or Appalachian St.

 

 

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