By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 9 Review
The Crimson Tide finished the regular season with a 59-54 loss on the road at Tennessee. Alabama led 36-22 at the half but a strong second-half surge by the Volunteers in the ended the Tide’s NCAA Tournament chances. At 10-8 in the conference, Alabama still earned the five-seed in the SEC Tournament. UA meets South Carolina in the quarterfinals if they advance in the tournament.
Auburn Week 9 Review
Auburn ended its regular season with an 89-78 home victory over Missouri last Saturday, improving to 18-13 overall and 7-11 in conference play. The Tigers are the No. 11 seed in the SEC Tournament and matchup with Missouri again in the first round. Auburn needs to win the SEC Tournament in order to make the NCAA Tournament, and the Tigers will have to go through Missouri, Ole Miss and Arkansas to reach the semifinals.
1. Kentucky (26-5, 16-2)
2. Florida (24-7, 14-4)
3. Arkansas (23-8, 12-6)
4. South Carolina (22-9, 12-6)
5. Vanderbilt (17-14, 10-8)
6. Ole Miss (19-12, 10-8)
7. Georgia (18-13, 9-9)
8. Texas A&M (16-14,8-10)
9. Tennessee (16-15, 8-10)
10. Auburn (18-13, 7-11)
11. Alabama (17-13, 10-8)
12. Mississippi State (15-15, 6-12)
13. Missouri (7-23, 2-16)
14. LSU (10-20, 2-16)
SEC Tournament Preview and Prediction
Five teams from the Southeastern Conference are expected to make the NCAA Tournament entering the SEC Tournament starting this week in Nashville. As the top seed in the SEC tourney, Kentucky likely will be a two or three seed in the NCAA tourney, while Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina likely have earned at-large bids. Vanderbilt is on the bubble, but most experts have the Commodores in the field despite having 14 losses. Vandy will likely need to beat Texas A&M in its first game in the SEC tourney to solidify an NCAA bid.
Georgia and Ole Miss are fringe bubble teams at best and will need plenty of help to make the NCAA Tournament field. Both the Bulldogs and the Rebels will probably need to reach the championship game to even have a chance at an at-large NCAA bid, and might even need to win the SEC title if they want to ensure themselves a bid. Georgia plays Tennessee in the first round, while Ole Miss takes on the winner of Auburn and Missouri.
Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina all received double byes and won’t play until Friday. Auburn squares off against Missouri and LSU takes on Mississippi State in the first round games.
Kentucky is the prohibitive favorite to win the SEC title. The Wildcats won the regular season title outright, and John Calipari has won four SEC Tournament championships since his first season in Lexington in 2010. Florida split a pair of games with the Wildcats in the regular season and has the best chance to knock off Kentucky in Nashville.
The sleeper to win the tournament is Vanderbilt. The Commodores are playing the tournament in their hometown and have played much better down the stretch. Vandy knocked off Florida twice this season and have wins over Arkansas and South Carolina.
SEC Tournament championship game
Kentucky over Florida