By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
NCAA Tournament second weekend review
Kentucky and Texas A&M were the only two teams from the Southeastern Conference to reach the second weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and neither team made it past the Sweet 16. The Aggies dominated North Carolina in the second round but ran into one of the hottest teams in the country in the Sweet 16 when they took on Michigan. The Wolverines cruised past Texas A&M, 99-72. A&M finished the season with a 22-13 record. It was the second Sweet 16 appearance in the last three seasons for Texas A&M. Michigan went on to defeat Florida State in the Elite Eight.
The South Region had a plethora of upsets, and it seemed like Kentucky had a clear path to the Final Four. Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arizona – which were seeded 1 through 4 in the South – were all eliminated during the first weekend. Kentucky was upset by No. 9 Kansas State 61-58, however, and the Wildcats finished the season 26-11. Kansas State lost to No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight.
Seven SEC teams made the NCAA women’s tournament, including Mississippi State, South Carolina, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas A&M. Georgia lost in the second round to Duke after sneaking past Mercer in the opening round, while LSU lost in the first round to Central Michigan. Tennessee lost in the second round to Oregon State after blowing past Liberty in the first round. Missouri was upset in the first round by Florida Gulf Coast.
Texas A&M beat Drake and DePaul en route to a Sweet 16 berth before falling to Notre Dame. A year after winning the national title, South Carolina advanced to the Elite Eight this season. The Gamecocks defeated North Carolina AT&T, Virginia and Buffalo before losing to UConn.
For the second straight season, Mississippi State is advancing to the Final Four. The Bulldogs won each of their first four games by double digits, including wins over Nicholls State, Oklahoma State, North Ca-rolina State and UCLA. Mi-ssissippi State will take on Louisville in the Final Four, and if the Bulldogs win, they’ll likely meet UConn in the championship game.
In the NIT, Mississippi State’s men’s team advanced to the semifinals. The Bulldogs fell to Penn State, 75-60, and finished the year with a 25-12 record.
NCAA Tournament Final Four predictions
Villanova defeats Kansas 84-77 to advance to its second championship game in the last three seasons.
Michigan ends the Cinderella story as they knock off Loyola-Chicago, 68-62.
Jay Wright’s team wins another national title as Villanova beats Michigan, 77-72. Point guard Jalen Brun-son wins Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
All-SEC Postseason Awards
Guards: Jared Harper, So., Auburn; Jaylen Barford, Sr., Arkansas
Forwards: Yante Maten, Sr., Georgia; Grant Williams, So., Tennessee
Center: Tyler Davis, Jr., Texas A&M
Guards: Chris Chiozza, Sr., Florida; Kassius Robertson, Sr., Missouri; Mustapha Heron, So., Auburn
Forwards: Chris Silva, Jr., South Carolina; Kevin Knox, Fr., Kentucky
Guards: Collin Sexton, Fr., Alabama; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Fr., Kentucky; Bryce Brown, Jr., Auburn
Forwards: Admiral Schofield, Jr., Tennessee; Robert Williams, So., Texas A&M
Guards: Collin Sexton, Alabama; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky; Tre-mont Waters, LSU
Forwards: Kevin Knox, Kentucky; Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
Freshman of the Year
Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Defensive Player of the Year
Chris Silva, South Carolina
Player of the Year
Grant Williams, Tennessee
Coach of the Year
Bruce Pearl, Auburn