In & around SEC men’s basketball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Auburn Week 9 Recap 

The Tigers finished the regular season by defeating Texas A&M on the road, 69-64. Auburn ended the season in 12th place in the SEC standings and faced South Carolina in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Despite defeating the Gamecocks twice in the regular season, the Tigers lost to South Carolina, 74-56, in Atlanta. Shortly after the game, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs fired head coach Tony Barbee. Barbee was 49-75 in four seasons on the Plains. Auburn finished the season at 14-16. 

Alabama Week 9 Recap 

The Crimson Tide defeated Arkansas, 83-58, in senior point guard Trevor Releford’s last game in Coleman Coliseum. Releford scored 24 points and had four assists, and Shannon Hale scored 18 points off the bench. Alabama improved to 13-18 overall, and 7-11 in SEC play. 

SEC Men’s Basketball Rankings

1. Florida (29-2, 18-0)

  2. Tennessee (20-11, 11-7)

  3. Arkansas (21-10, 10-8)

  4. Kentucky (22-9, 12-6)

5. Georgia (18-12, 12-6)

6. Missouri (21-10, 9-9)

7. LSU (18-12, 9-9)

8. Ole Miss (18-13, 9-9)

9. Texas A&M (17-14, 8-10)

10. Alabama (13-18, 7-11)

11. Vanderbilt (15-15, 7-11)

12. South Carolina (13-19, 5-13)

13. Auburn (14-16, 6-12)

14. Mississippi State (13-18, 3-15)

SEC Tournament Previews 

(Week 9: 3-4; season: 72-31)

Although it was another down year overall for basketball in the SEC, entering the postseason the conference boasts the No. 1 team in the country in Florida. The Gators currently are 29-2 on the year and finished 18-0 in the SEC. Kentucky was predicted to do what the Gators accomplished, but the Wildcats have been inconsistent all season. After those two teams, the league was plagued by mediocrity. Tennessee and Arkansas should secure bids for the NCAA Tournament but both remain on the bubble. Missouri had high expectations entering the year, but Frank Haith’s team failed to produce consistently on the road. Georgia was the league’s biggest surprise. After a 6-6 non-conference record, the Bulldogs went 12-6 in the conference and earned a double bye in the SEC Tournament, along with Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. The Gators are the favorite to win the tournament, but there are a few teams who could make a run this weekend in Atlanta. Tennessee is playing its best basketball of the season. LSU has the talent and a favorable draw considering they split two games with Kentucky. Defending tournament champion Ole Miss must win four games in four days to repeat, but the Rebels are capable of that feat if Marshall Henderson plays at a high level. 

SEC Tournament Predictions

Semifinal 1: Florida over Tennessee 

Semifinal 2: LSU over Ole Miss 

SEC Championship: Florida over LSU 

NCAA Tournament outlook

In

Florida. The Gators are the first SEC team to finish 18-0 in conference play and are almost certainly going to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If Florida wins the SEC Tournament, the Gators might also be the overall number one seed in the Big Dance. 

Kentucky. John Calipari’s Wildcats started the season as the top-ranked team in country but finished the regular season unranked. The Wildcats stumbled down the stretch, losing three of their last four games. However, Kentucky remains one of the most talented teams in the country. The ‘Cats likely will be a sixth or seventh seed in the NCAA Tournament, although that could change if they make a deep run in the SEC tourney. 

On the bubble

Tennessee. The Volunteers finished the regular season on a four game winning streak, and three of those wins came by at least 27 points. Tennessee is one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Cuonzo Martin is very close to reaching his first NCAA Tournament. A win in the SEC quarterfinals probably locks up a spot in the NCAA Tournament field for the Vols. 

Arkansas. After winning at Kentucky, the Razorbacks seemed destined to reach the Big Dance for the first time in Mike Anderson’s tenure. However, Arkansas lost by 25 points at Alabama to finish the regular season, and the Hogs are right back on the bubble. Two wins in the conference tournament should be enough to get the Razorbacks in the tournament field. 

Must win SEC Tournament 

Missouri, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M.

 
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