What-to-know tourney previews: SEC
Florida is in. Missouri probably is, too. But what about everybody else?
1. So how many of these schools are safe as it pertains to the Field of 68?
Florida is in no matter what. Missouri is probably in no matter what. But everybody else -- Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, specifically -- is on the bubble. They won't all make it. They won't all miss it. But any of them are capable of making it or missing it, which is why this event in Nashville should be great. It's gonna feel like one of the small-conference tournaments where multiple games have huge ramifications -- only difference being the 15,000 Kentucky fans in attendance. Big Blue Nation, indeed.
2. So what must the Wildcats do to earn a bid?
A loss in their first game to either Arkansas or Vanderbilt will send them to the NIT; a win will give them a decent chance at an at-large, and two wins would almost certainly clinch a bid, I think. So this is a big week for John Calipari. UK is the No. 2 seed here, but the Wildcats still have just two top-50 wins on their resume. That's not good. But it might be good enough ... long as they don't lose to Arkansas or Vanderbilt on Friday.
3. Is Andy Kennedy coaching for his job?
I hope not because I think Ole Miss would be unwise to rid itself of a coach who has consistently finished better than Ole Miss should consistently finish in the SEC. But the fans are restless, and they want a bid to the NCAA tournament, and the Rebels won't get one unless they at least advance to the SEC semifinals, which means they'll need to beat either Missouri, Texas A&M or Auburn in Friday's quarterfinals. A win over Missouri there would give Ole Miss two wins over Missouri and two top-50 wins. Like I said about Kentucky, that's not good. But that combined with two victories over Tennessee and one over Alabama might be enough to send Kennedy to his first Field of 68 in his seventh season. That would make athletic director Ross Bjork's decision an easy one.
Schedule: All games at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. March 13 (opening round); March 14 (second round); March 15 (quarterfinals); March 16 (semifinals); March 17 (title game).
Title game: Sunday, March 17, at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.
THREE BEST PLAYERS
Conference RPI: 8
KenPom.com rating: 7
Sagarin rating: 7
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