In & around SEC basketball – conference tournament preview


By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 10 Review
Auburn entered the regular season finale on a two-game losing streak, but the Tigers submitted their best performance of the season last Saturday (March 7) at Tennessee in an 85-63 victory. Samir Doughty buried eight 3-point baskets and scored 32 points, and Auburn dominated both halves in the blowout victory. Auburn clinched the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and earned a double bye, so the Tigers won’t play until 6 p.m. on Friday, March 13, in Nashville. The Tigers finished the regular season 25-6 overall and 12-6 in conference play.
Alabama Week 10 Review
While Auburn finished its regular season with its best game of the year, Alabama ended with possibly its worst performance of the re-gular season. The Crimson Tide lost to Missouri, 69-50, and shot 4-25 (16 percent) from the 3-point line. Kira Lewis scored 18 points, but he did not receive much help on the offensive end of the floor. Alabama dropped to 16-15 overall and 8-10 in league play. They now must win four games in four days to reach the NCAA Tournament.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (25-6, 15-3)
2. Auburn (25-6, 12-6)
3. Florida (19-12, 11-7)
4. LSU (21-10, 12-6)
5. Mississippi State (20-11, 11-7)
6. South Car. (18-13, 10-8)
7. Arkansas (19-11, 7-10)
8. Texas A&M (16-14, 10-8)
9. Tennessee (17-14, 9-9)
10. Alabama (16-15, 8-10)
11. Missouri (15-16, 7-11)
12. Georgia (15-16, 5-13)
13. Ole Miss (15-16, 6-12)
14. Vanderbilt (11-20, 3-15)

SEC Tournament Preview and Predictions
The SEC Tournament is making its way to Nashville, Tenn., for the second straight season and 10th time ever, including the eighth time at Bridgestone Arena. A season ago, Auburn cruised past Tennessee, 84-64, for its second conference tournament championship, and the Tigers enter this year’s tournament as the No. 2 seed behind Kentucky. The Wildcats are the team to beat, but the potential absence of guard Ashton Hagans could keep the Wildcats from cutting down the nets on Sunday.
LSU and Mississippi State also received a double bye, so they must win only three games to win the tournament. LSU, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida – who is the No. 5 seed – are all comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has some work to do in Nash-ville in order to secure a bid. The Bulldogs might need to reach the conference tournament finals to have a chance, though a win over Florida would certainly help their case if they meet on Friday.
South Carolina’s at-large chances are almost completely gone at this point, but Frank Martin’s team has had success in this tournament in the past. Provided they advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, the Gamecocks will have a chance to beat LSU and potentially put a scare into other teams on the bubble.
The biggest question mark of the tournament is Arkansas. With a full lineup, the Razorbacks look like an NCAA Tournament team. The Hogs were without Isaiah Joe for several weeks, however, and are the No. 11 seed in the SEC. That means Arkansas must win five games in five days to win the SEC title. It might not take that much to earn an at-large bid, but the Razorbacks likely need three wins to prove to the committee that they’re worth a bid.
Alabama’s late season slide sent them to the No. 9 seed, and they first must take on Tennessee. If the Tide can knock off the Vols, they’ll play Kentucky in front of mostly Wildcat fans on Friday. UA must win the tournament to make the NCAA tourney, and probably needs at least one win to even make the NIT. Tennessee won the lone regular season meeting between the two teams, 69-68, in Tuscaloosa.
Kentucky is the favorite to win the conference tournament, but No. 5 seed Florida has the talent to make a run and win the title as well. The Gators have underachieved thus far but have started to play well down the stretch. Arkansas also has a chance to make a run, but winning the tournament is a tall task for a team that must win five straight games.
Prediction: Florida over LSU

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