The SEC basketball tournament begins on Wednesday and we’ll have you covered here at KC Kingdom. Follow all the games from this site, Facebook, or on twitter (@KCKingdomFS) for Missouri, SEC, and NCAA tournament news and commentary.
To get things started, here is a seed-by-seed preview of each team along with a prediction before the start of the tournament on Wednesday night.
Comment: Florida is the runaway favorite to win the SEC tournament even though they have lost three of their last six games and have dropped as potential one seed in the NCAA tournament. The Gators rank first in offensive and defensive efficiency in the SEC by significant margins. Their ability to shoot threes (39.2%), which also leads the SEC, will be a big key for them the deeper they get into the tournament.
A concerning thing about the Gators is they have yet to win a game decided by 11 points or less. The closer the game is, the more Florida seems to struggle. The tournament is their last chance to fix this issue before the NCAA’s.
Prediction: Florida will win the tournament.
Comment: Kentucky is still on the bubble as they have been since Nerlens Noel went down with a knee injury. Their win over Florida in the final game of the regular season was huge for their tournament chances but they will still need to get to the championship game of the tournament in order to cement a spot in the NCAA’s without having to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.
Prediction: Kentucky will lose in the SEC semifinals to Missouri.
Comment: Mississippi has gone 6-6 since opening SEC play with a six-game winning streak, with bad losses against Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Texas A&M. Ole Miss has a lot of work to do if they are going to make the NCAA tournament which may involve having to make it at least to the SEC championship game.
Most of the issues for Ole Miss has centered around their defense. They have a worse defensive efficiency in SEC play than Texas A&M and Georgia, ranking eighth in conference. They’re getting beat up inside, allowing opponents to shoot 48.7% from inside the arc, which is opening up the perimeter for shooters. Ole Miss is going to have to fix itself from the inside out if they are going to improve on the defensive end.
Prediction: Will lose to Missouri in the quarterfinals.
Comment: Alabama is riding their second-ranked defense in conference season to keep themselves in games as they are a very average offensive team. Losers of three of their last five, Alabama isn’t exactly coming into the tournament on a hot streak and are fortunate to be receiving the double-round bye in the tournament.
Prediction: Alabama will lose to Tennessee in the quarterfinals.
5 Seed: Tennessee
Comment: Tennessee, winners of eight of their last nine, may be the hottest team coming into the SEC tournament. They’ve beaten arguably the three best teams in the conference over that span – Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri – while seeing their defensive numbers progressively improve. The Vols will be a tough out in this tournament.
Prediction: Will lose to Florida in the semifinals.
Comment: Missouri is ranked second in offensive efficiency and fifth in defensive efficiency in SEC play. There is a lot of talent there for Mizzou to make a deep run in the SEC tournament, something their seed doesn’t accurately reflect. Mizzou is 3-1 in neutral site games this season so whatever hampers them on the road doesn’t seem to apply in neutral site games.
The question will be whether or not Phil Pressey will be able to handle late game pressure situations, otherwise the tournament is there for the Tigers to win.
Prediction: Will lose to Florida in the championship game.
Comment: The Razorbacks could end up making a deeper run than I have predicted if their three-point shot is on and the turnovers come. If not, they will get run out of the building by whoever they are playing, no matter the quality of the opponent. Arkansas is currently the third most efficient team on defense in the SEC and they’ll need it if they are going to make a run for an SEC championship title and a NCAA berth.
Prediction: Will lose to Kentucky in the quarterfinals.
Comment: It’s Kentavious versus the world when Georgia comes to play. A deep run would be surprising, but a win over LSU would not.
Prediction: Will lose to Florida in the quarterfinals.
Comment: LSU is deeper than Georgia but they do not have a go-to player the way the Bulldogs do in Caldwell-Pope. This game is a toss up but Georgia has the edge.
Prediction: Will lose to LSU in the second round.
Comment: Vanderbilt is a solid defensive team but they cannot score. As a result they are a slight underdog against Arkansas because they can defend and have the potential to score a lot of points in bunches.
Prediction: Will lose to Arkansas in the second round.
11 Seed: Texas A&M
First game: vs. Auburn (Wednesday, 9 p.m.)
KenPom Projection: Texas A&M 64, Auburn 58 (73%)
Top players: Fabyon Harris (112.7 OR), Kourtney Roberson (113.7 OR), Ray Turner (101.3 OR)
Comment: The Aggies have lost four of their last five and their best player, Elston Turner, is hurt. Things are not looking good for an Aggie run but they should be able to beat Auburn without much of an issue.
Prediction: Will lose to Missouri in the second round.
12 Seed: South Carolina
First game: vs. Mississippi State (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.)
KenPom Projection: South Carolina 68, Mississippi State 63 (66%)
Top players: Michael Carrera (102.6 OR), Brenton Williams (122.2 OR), Brian Richardson (108.2 OR).
Comment: It has been a tough first year for Frank Martin at South Carolina, but I don’t expect them to be in this position for very long. Martin is a solid coach and great recruiter so do not expect him to be playing first round SEC games again in the future.
Prediction: Will lose to Tennessee in the second round.
13 Seed: Mississippi State
First game: vs. South Carolina (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.)
KenPom Projection: South Carolina 68, Mississippi State 63 (34%)
Top players: Craig Sword (76.8 OR), Colin Borchert (88.0 OR), Fred Thomas (87.6 OR)
Comment: A strong argument could be made Mississippi State is a worse team than Auburn, who finished below them in the final SEC standings. They rank last in offensive and defensive efficiency and have lost 14 of their last 16 games. On the bright side, they have won two of their last three games including Ole Miss and … Auburn.
Prediction: Mississippi State will lose to South Carolina in the first round.
14 Seed: Auburn
First game: vs. Texas A&M (Wednesday, 9 p.m.)
KenPom Projection: Texas A&M 64, Auburn 58 (27%)
Top players: Frankie Sullivan (91.8 OR), Chris Denson (106.4 OR), Shaquille Johnson (101.7 OR)
Comment: Losers of nine straight, the odds Auburn puts up much of a fight against Texas A&M are minimal at best. Like Mississippi State, the Tigers rank at the bottom of both offensive and defensive efficiency and really doesn’t do much of anything well. They will be a one in done – a bold statement, I know.
Prediction: Will lose to Texas A&M in the first round.