Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
12 Vanderbilt def. 13 Texas A&M
9 Mississippi State def. 8 Kentucky
12 Vanderbilt def. 5 Florida
7 Missouri def. 10 Georgia
6 Ole Miss def. 11 South Carolina
1 Alabama def. 9 Mississippi State
4 Tennessee def. 12 Vanderbilt
2 Arkansas def. 7 Missouri
6 Ole Miss def. 3 LSU
1 Alabama def. 4 Tennessee
2 Arkansas def. 6 Ole Miss
2 Arkansas def. 1 Alabama
The Razorbacks shape up nicely to make a run for their first SEC title since 2000. Future NBA lottery pick Moses Moody has been fantastic for Arkansas averaging 17.5 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game en route to being named SEC Newcomer of the Year. Three other Razorbacks average double-digit scoring for what KenPom ratings identify as the second-most efficient offense. They are riding an eight-game winning streak in which their average margin of victory is over 11 points. In that stretch, Arkansas has taken down Alabama, LSU, and a then-ranked Missouri. Fans looking for excitement can expect the Razorbacks to soar in the second half of games. They are the third-best team in Division I by second half scoring margin, outscoring opponents by over eight points per game. Look for the Razorbacks to carry their regular season momentum through to the Big Dance.
The SEC has an easy claim to 3rd best conference this season. Normally, this is the time of year when a handful of middling SEC teams are scraping for limited bubble spots. This time around, the postseason picture is fairly set with only Ole Miss realistically on the bubble. That’s the motivation for making them a sleeper. The Rebels have five wins away from home, including at Missouri. They also are a strong rebounding team putting up Top 30 rebounding rates in the NCAA. LSU has struggled away from home this season giving a sneaky chance for Ole Miss to make at least the semifinals.
Matchup to Watch
Alabama vs Arkansas
A season series split, the top two seeds, and a game that can determine a top eight seed in March Madness all culminate in this potential finals matchup. Both ranked inside the AP Top 10, Alabama and Arkansas enter the SEC Tournament on three- and eight-game winning streaks respectively. In their first meeting, the Crimson Tide won 90-59 in the midst of a super hot stretch. In matchup two, the Razorbacks won 81-66 in what is still an active hot streak. If matchup three occurs, hopefully the margin of victory tightens with some of the SEC’s finest taking centerstage.
Featured Image courtesy of arkansasrazorbacks.com
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