In & around SEC basketball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Although the Southeastern Conference only received three bids to the NCAA Tournament, the league fared relatively well during the first weekend of games. 

Florida dominated both Northwestern State and Minnesota to each the Sweet 16 for the third straight year. The Gators lost in the Elite 8 in each of the last two seasons. Billy Donovan’s team faces Flo-rida Gulf Coast, which is the first No. 15 seed to ever make the Sweet 16. Florida should get by the Eagles to reach the Elite 8, where the Gators face the winner of the Michigan-Kansas game.

Ole Miss won the SEC tournament and received a No. 12 seed for the NCAA tournament. Although the Rebels were underdogs against No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the second round, they were able to shut down the Badger offense en route to a 57-46 victory. It was the first NCAA tournament win for Ole Miss since 2001, and the first for head coach Andy Kennedy. In the third round, the Rebels faced No. 13 seed La Salle, who upset Kansas State in the second round. The game was highly contested throughout, but the Explorers prevailed after hitting a shot with less than three seconds remaining in the second half. Ole Miss finished the season 27-9 overall.

Missouri faced Colorado State in the Tigers opening round game. For the second straight year, Frank Haith’s team lost their first game of the tournament. The Rams dominated the Tigers in every phase of the game, but the biggest difference in the game was Missouri’s inability to rebound. The Tigers were inconsistent all season long, and especially struggled to win away from home. Missouri finished 23-11 on the season.

Outside the SEC, the NCAA Tournament was incredibly unpredictable. There were numerous second-round upsets, including No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 2 Georgetown and No. 14 Harvard over No. 3 New Mexico. Louisville looked like the best team during the first weekend, but the Cardinals’ path to the Final Four is far from easy. 

NCAA Tournament

Predictions

Midwest Regional 

Sweet 16

Louisville 78, Oregon 70

Michigan State 65, Duke 62

Elite 8

Louisville 74, Michigan State 67

West Regional

Sweet 16

Wichita State 71, La Salle 68

Ohio State 67, Arizona 61

Elite 8

Ohio State 73, Wichita State 65

South Regional 

Sweet 16

Kansas 72, Michigan 66

Florida 81, Florida Gulf Coast 65

Elite 8

Florida 75, Kansas 70

East Regional 

Sweet 16

Indiana 77, Syracuse 73

Miami 62, Marquette 57

Elite 8

Indiana 76, Miami 67

NIT recap

Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky all made the National Invitational Tournament. The Volunteers and the Wildcats both lost in the first round to inferior opponents. Alabama easily defeated Northeastern, 62-43, in the first round. In the second round, the Crimson Tide beat Stanford 66-54. Anthony Grant’s team squared off against Maryland on Tuesday night (Mar. 26) for a NIT final four berth and a trip to Madison Square Garden. Despite having an impressive crowd on hand, the Crimson Tide lost to the Terrapins 58-57. Alabama finished the year 23-13 overall. 

 
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