May 27, 2024

SEC Tournament Preview

Staff writer, Dalton King, previews what should be an entertaining SEC men’s college basketball tournament.

KNOXVILLE,TN - FEBRUARY 02, 2016 - Forward Armani Moore #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

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Postseason play in the Southeastern conference is finally here.

The 2016 SEC Men’s College Basketball Tournament starts today, March 9, and runs until Sunday, March 13, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

All of the SEC except for Missouri will be competing for the title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s take a look at this year’s field:

The Favorite: No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats

In the SEC, when it comes to basketball, the Kentucky Wildcats are synonymous with “SEC champion.”

Although the Wildcats finished with only a share of the SEC regular-season title this year  with Texas A&M, they are still the favorite and most talented team in the conference.

The Wildcats continued their tradition of racking up All-SEC honors. Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis dominated the field, winning SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and was named First Team All-SEC. Freshman guard Jamal Murray joined Ullis as First Team All-SEC and was also on the All-Freshman Team.

High school graduates have carried the Cats the past few seasons. This season, senior point guard Tyler Ullis has carried the torch. Who knew Kentucky even had seniors anymore?

The Wildcats finished the season hot, winning seven of their last nine games. But those two losses to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt could provide a hint on who might challenge the Wildcats this week.

Fun (if you’re a Kentucky fan, not so fun) Fact: Seven of the Wildcats’ eight losses came on the road (4-7 record on the road).

Considering Nashville is not in the state of Kentucky, their struggles away from home might be a factor in this week’s tournament. However, I have no doubts that Big Blue Nation will fill Bridgestone Arena and flood the city of Nashville this week.

It’s just what Kentucky fans do.

The Contender: No. 1 seed Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies are the co-owners of the SEC regular season conference title along with Kentucky. This year marked the first regular season conference championship for the Aggies since 1986 (they won the now nonexistent Southwest Conference).

They dominated the All-SEC honors. A&M has the SEC Coach of the Year in Billy Kennedy, a first team All-SEC selection in senior forward Jalen Jones, second-teamers with senior guards Alex Caruso (also All-Defensive Team) and Danuel House, and two members of the All-Freshman team in center Tyler Davis and forward DJ Hogg.

The Aggies have the perfect blend of star freshmen and experienced seniors. Throw in great coaching, and you have textbook elite college basketball. Excluding a four-game losing streak, the Aggies could be looking at a top-10 ranking, perhaps even top five in the country.

Now that you’ve seen their accolades, you know they are capable. Can the Aggies continue their six-game winning streak and run the table heading into March Madness?

Honorable mention in this category: Vanderbilt

The Cinderella: No. 4 seed LSU Tigers

As I wrote in my Monday Madness column this week, the SEC Tournament is a must-win for freshman phenom Ben Simmons and the LSU Tigers.

The potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft this summer cannot miss the NCAA Tournament, right? It’s just not good for basketball.

Well that is what will happen if the Tigers do not win the SEC Tournament.

Bracketologist Joe Lundardi has the Tigers no where to be found in his latest Bracketology for the NCAA Tournament field.

With an 18-13 record, the Tigers aren’t even on the bubble. It’s do-or-die for Simmons and the Tigers.

An unlikely tournament run by the Tigers would not only be shocking, but also thrilling and a perfect storyline heading into the NCAA Tournament.

But if they don’t, this will definitely be one of the most talented basketball teams to ever miss out on March Madness.

This week the Tigers are not only playing for their season, but for their legacy.

The 2016 SEC Men’s College Basketball Tournament officially tips off at 8 p.m. ET when the No. 12 seed Tennessee Volunteers will take on the No. 13 seed Auburn Tigers.

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Edited by David Bradford

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Dalton, a firm believer that sporting events are best spent on Twitter, is an Assistant Sports Editor for TNJN and a sophomore studying Journalism at the University of Tennessee. Two of his favorite pastimes include beating his roommates at 2k and remaining in awe of the amount of stories fellow editor David Bradford writes. Twitter: @dk_writes