SEC tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info
Florida went 18-0 in the SEC this season. So why would anybody pick against the Gators now?
What: SEC Championship.
When: March 12-16
Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta
Bracket: View tournament field here.
TV: The first round, second round and quarterfinals are either on ESPNU or ESPN3. The semifinals are Saturday afternoon on ABC. The title game is Sunday at 3:15 ET on ABC.
Last year's champ: Ole Miss (26-8, No. 12 seed)
What matters: Florida, in my opinion, has a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on lock no matter what happens in Atlanta. So the bubble teams are what matter at the Georgia Dome -- specifically Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. All of them are in contention for an at-large bid, at this moment. But does Missouri need two wins ... including one over Florida? And is a possible quarterfinal game between Tennessee and Arkansas going to amount to a play-in game? That's where the real drama lies in Atlanta ... although the fate of Kentucky deserves equal billing. Can the Wildcats get hot and make the kind of run that generates confidence leading into the NCAA Tournament? We'll see.
Who matters: There was a point early in this season when Kentucky's Julius Randle looked like the SEC Player of the Year and the National Player of the Year. But the former award, at least officially, has been given to Florida's Scottie Wilbekin. So here's the question: Can Randle make voters look dumb for doing that this week? He's averaging 15.4 points and 10.5 rebounds. But a double-double won't be good enough. He needs to lead UK to something great. Otherwise, he's just posting big numbers for a borderline Top 25 team.
Fun Fact: Tennessee is on everybody's bubble, and I agree with that assesment when considering the body of work. But the Vols are actually ranked 14th in KenPom. That suggests they could be a tough matchup for a higher-seeded team ... provided they make the NCAA Tournament. That's still not a guarantee, you know?
Prediction: Billy Donovan's Gators finished 18-0 in the league -- meaning they won every SEC game they played, home and away. So why would anybody pick against them on a neutral court? That's a weird thing to write considering Florida doesn't have a single sure-bet lottery pick. But the Gators are 29-2, and 29-2 is 29-2. They are favorites to cut nets on Sunday ... and again in early April.
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