SEC Tourney Preview

Yes, I know that the logo above might not match what this post is about, but it’s the same gist as the posts from the fall I did each week: a preview of the upcoming weekend. It just happens to be this weekend’s SEC Tournament down in Tampa.

First, two things: one, this thing should NEVER be played in Tampa again. It’s like the ACC playing it’s tournament in Boston (for Boston College) or the Big East playing their’s in Milwaukee (for Marquette). These things are supposed to be played in central locations – Atlanta, Nashville, even Birmingham or Memphis (the SEC Tourney in Memphis would be better than the C-USA Tourney).

Second, don’t even think for a second I’m going to predict who will win this tournament, because neither I nor anybody else has a single clue. Partly because there’s no dominant team and the SEC this year was more or less a bunch of good mediocre teams beating each other up. I might as well put the 12 logos – er, take out Georgia and Arkansas – close my eyes and throw a dart and pick whoever said dart lands on.

Instead, I’ll go through why each team can win it all and why each team can’t win it all. Here’s your bracket and if you want to use the SEC playoffs as a warm-up for your office pool, here’s where you wanna go.


Why they can: Well, they’re Kentucky. Up until recently this was their invitational. They have two really good players in Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson, but nobody else on that team instills fear in you. A potential run could be fueled by revenge, as the Ole Miss-LSU-South Carolina path to the final seems like a likely route, and unless UK gets there, they can start selling those NIT tickets.

Why they won’t: Unless the league changes the format to a two-on-two instead of five-on-five, or every team Kentucky faces wears Tennessee jerseys, Kentucky isn’t winning this thing. The supporting cast isn’t good enough to put four consecutive games together to help Meeks and Patterson.


Why they can: Andy Kennedy is a great coach and Terrico White was the league’s freshman of the year. The Rebs beat Kentucky and battled LSU in Baton Rouge.

Why they won’t: Don’t think they can beat Kentucky twice, and Chris Warren, Trevor Gaskins and Eniel Polynice are all still out. The lighting in Tampa will be considerably brighter than the Tad Pad and will effect the shooting in near darkness the Rebels are used to.


Why they can: Any team that can shoot threes like State can is dangerous. They’ve beaten South Carolina this year, and are coming off a tough win at Ole Miss. And Jarvis Varnardo blocks lots of shots.

Why they won’t: You live by the three, you die by the three. Hopefully the Tampa rims are soft, or the Bulldogs won’t be around for the weekend.


Why they can: Well, I guess they did last year when nobody gave them a shot, but a saying I use alot goes “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.” Suffice to say UGA has found three – one last year thanks to that tornado, one in Athens when Florida visited, and the third in Rupp two weeks ago (I fully enjoyed that, by the way).

Why they won’t: They’re Georgia.


Why they can: You have to think that whole buzzer-beater in Knoxville thing is a boost to the Tide, who have played very well the past three weeks of the year. That JaMychal Green guy is really good, and Senario Hillman provides a nice little inside-outside combo for the Tide. But Vanderbilt is playing well and the Tide had to beat a sleepwalking Tennessee team that missed 12 free throws.

Why they won’t: As I said, two teams playing well meet Thursday night and one of them has to lose. Beating Vanderbilt is one thing, and beating Tennessee for a second time in under a week is hard to do as well.


Why they can: This is a team that hammered South Carolina, won at LSU, and hammered Arkansas in the past week and a half. A.J. Ogilvy’s points in those games goes 28-33-12 and he had 10 rebounds in each of the last two. At the Vandy-Tennessee game this year, I dubbed him “The Big Charmin,” because I thought he was the softest big guy this side of Pau Gasol. This team is playing well, but can they beat Tennessee?

Why they won’t: As I said, two teams playing well meet Thursday night and one of them has to lose. Beating Vanderbilt is one thing, and beating Tennessee for a second time in under a week is hard to do as well.


Why they can: When Florida is on, they are hard to beat. Of course you have Calathes, but Erving Walker has been a guy that’s impressed me when I’ve watched him. The Gators likely get a matchup with Auburn in the quarters, a team they can beat. They always says it’s hard to beat a team three times in a year, so a matchup with Tennessee in the semis could benefit the Gators. Also, they are the defacto home team, playing a couple hours from home. The longer they stay, the more Gates will show up to support their team as they fight for their Tournament lives.

Why they won’t: Florida has no inside game. No forwards. Dan Werner? Chandler Parsons? Alex Tyus is good, but he’s the only one. I also think this team is a finesse team. Fortunately, Auburn is very similar, and the Gators need to win that game to have any hope on Selection Sunday.


Why they can: They won’t. The Razorbacks just want this season – which had high hopes following a win over Texas and beatdown of Oklahoma – to be over and done with.

Why they won’t: This team was just bad this year. Courtney Fortson is a great player, and Stefan Welsh and Michael Washington are good players, but outside of that there isn’t much for coach John Pelphrey. I’m curious to see if there are any fans outside of the players’ families/friends that come to this game against Florida. How far is Fayetteville from Tampa again?


Why they can: The regular season champs, LSU has the best starting five in the league. Marcus Thornton is the player of the year, single-handedly won games for LSU in Knoxville and Lexington. Tasmin Mitchell, Chris Johnson, Garrett Temple – all studs. Bo Spencer at PG has been the key to LSU’s season though and the Tigers were the league’s best team all season.

Why they won’t: I don’t know why – has LSU run out of gas due to a lack of depth or did they just lose interest after wrapping up the regular season title? – but LSU lost the past two games of the year, and didn’t play well in either. Also, with the relative lack of depth for the Tigers, can they play a high level three consecutive days? Still think the Tigers are the team to beat.


Why they can: Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick. Those two have carried the Gamecocks all year, and they can certainly carry them to a win in Tampa. The Gamecocks frontcourt has been up and down at times (see the Kentucky and Tennessee games), and guys like Dominique Archie, Flopping Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow have to be the key. Also, this team isn’t as “in” the NCAA Tournament as some think.

Why they won’t: Varnardo shuts things down inside and State gets hot and makes it rain threes. Downey and Fredrick go cold. Chickens go from the euphoria of hammering Kentucky to the NIT.


Why they can: I still think Tennessee is the most talented team in the SEC, but that’s the homer in me. The tourney isn’t in the Georgia Dome. If the Vols can get by either Alabama or Vanderbilt, the Florida/Auburn matchup seems winnable.

Why they won’t: It’s not in Atlanta, but it’s still the SEC Tournament, and getting to Saturday is always an accomplishment. Who knows the interest level of this team? Which Tennessee shows up? The disinterested, stupid one or the the T-E-A-M that played last Thursday in Columbia? The Vols’ tendency to overlook teams scares me too.


Why they can: The hottest team in the SEC, Auburn has fought and scrapped their way to seven wins in eight games. Auburn is capable a beating Florida, a team that I’ve said matches up well with them. They’ve beaten Tennessee and swept Alabama, so they may be the favorite on that side of the bracket. The Tigers are the dark horse favorites in this thing, and they can definitely win it.

Why they won’t: They’re still Auburn. Florida beat the Tigers earlier this year and the Tennessee game could have gone either way. They lack an inside game outside of stud Korvotney Barber, and this was still a mediocre team before they got hot.

Here’s to a competitive and entertaining tournament!

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

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About the Author: I'm from Memphis but I'm now entering my third year at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. I am majoring in Journalism/Electronic Media and hope to go into sports broadcasting/writing/something like that. I'm a huge Vol fan and have been going to games for as long as I can remember. I started my on blog called "The View From The Hill" but moved here to Gate 21 for bigger and better things. In addition to my passion for Tennessee football and basketball, I enjoy watching the NFL and the NBA as well. Basically, sports are a big part of my life. >> Read more from this author

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