SEC Tournament Review
Kentucky defeated Texas A&M, 82-77, in overtime to capture the 29th Southeastern Conference Tournament championship in school history. The Wildcats (26-8) and Aggies (26-8) shared the regular season crown, although Texas A&M was the top seed in the tournament due to winning the tiebreaker in the regular season.
Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis led Kentucky with a career-high 30 points, while freshman Jamal Murray buried two daggers in overtime to secure the victory. The Wildcats and Aggies clearly were the two best teams in the conference all season, and they provided fans with a thrilling championship game.
En route to the title game, Kentucky knocked off Georgia in the semifi-nals and Alabama in the quarterfinals. Texas A&M embarrassed LSU, 71-38, in the semifinals, and outlasted Florida, 72-66, in the quarterfinals.
Only three SEC teams made the NCAA Tournament, one of which was forced to play in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio. Texas A&M received a No. 3 seed in the West Region, while Kentucky received a No. 4 seed in the East Region.
Vanderbilt was one of the last four teams in the tournament and did not stick around very long. Wichita State defeated the Commodores, 70-50, in the First Four in Dayton. Vandy finished the season 19-14.
Kentucky opens up with State University of New York-Stony Brook in the No. 4/No. 13 seed matchup. In John Calipari’s previous five tournament appearances with Kentucky, his teams have made it to the Elite Eight each time. Calipari has also made the Final Four in his last four trips to the NCAA Tournament. If the Wildcats defeat Stony Brook, they matchup with either Indiana or Chattanooga. A potential Sweet 16 matchup with North Carolina looms next week if the ‘Cats advance.
Texas A&M drew a first round matchup with Green Bay in Oklahoma City. If the Aggies get by the Phoenix, they could potentially face in-state rival Texas. Billy Kennedy is looking to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in his career.
National Invitational Tournament
Of all the teams snubbed from the NCAA Tournament, perhaps the most surprising was South Ca-rolina. The Gamecocks were 24-8 after the SEC Tournament, including an 11-7 record in conference play. South Carolina also defeated Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in the re-gular season, but getting swept by Georgia probably didn’t help the tournament resume. The Gamecocks knocked off High Point in the NIT opening round.
Georgia made the NIT as a No. 3 seed, and the Bull-dogs knocked off Belmont in the opening round of the tournament. Georgia takes on St. Mary’s in the second round.
Florida beat North Florida in the first round, and the Gators will face Ohio State in a rematch of the 2007 NCAA national title game.
Alabama made the NIT in Avery Johnson’s debut season, and the Crimson Tide lost to Creighton, 72-54. UA fell to 18-15 overall on the season, but this team exceeded expectations.
Alabama was picked to finish 13th in the conference and were not supposed to be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid. Avery Johnson’s team was on the bubble for most of the season, and a couple of late losses sent the Tide to the NIT.