Which lower-seeded team can win the SEC Tournament?
There are obvious favorites for the SEC Tournament, but which team could be the Cinderella to spoil their fun?
Most predictions of the SEC Tournament include the Kentucky Wildcats and the Florida Gators facing off in the final. However, the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-14, 10-8 SEC) are the No. 7 seed and have been on a roll lately, making them a threat to take home the championship.
The Commodores have won five of their last six games with wins over South Carolina, Texas A&M and Florida. Vanderbilt is slated to play the No. 10-seed Aggies in the first game and will play the No. 2 seed Gators, who they beat in the final game of the regular season, if they get past A&M.
The last meeting between Vanderbilt and the Aggies on Feb. 16 resulted in a 72-62 victory for the black and gold. In the win, the Commodores had four players with double-digit points and were led in scoring by junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis who had 14 points. Senior Luke Kornet also contributed to the Vandy win by posting his third double-double of the season.
During the Commodores’ hot streak, they also beat Mississippi State by 29 points in a game where junior forward Jeff Robinson and guard Riley LaChance combined for 34 points and seven rebounds. Vandy received double-digit points from Kornet in this blowout win. Also, the Commodores only lost to a No. 9-ranked Kentucky team by six points. In this 73-67 loss, Vanderbilt got a huge 21-point game from Kornet and 15 points from sophomore guard Joe Toye. However, the ‘Dores did not get much help from the bench as three of the four players to come off the bench combined for 26 minutes on the floor and scored no points.
With the exception of the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, Vanderbilt is easily the hottest team in the SEC right now. The Commodores have proven that they have the ability to beat one of the top two teams in the SEC Tournament in Florida, who they swept in the season series. They also beat No. 3-seed Arkansas as well as No. 4-seed South Carolina. Vanderbilt could very easily take care of Texas A&M and go on to play the Gators and beat them for the third time this season. If the Commodores manage to take out Florida, they would no doubt be able to hang with the winner of the matchup between Arkansas or Ole Miss. In the end they could very likely go on to the SEC Championship and face off against any one of the teams that they have recently competed in a close game against.
On the right night, Vanderbilt can hang with any SEC team on the court, including Kentucky. If the Commodores manage to have multiple players with double-digit points and get help from their bench, look for them to go deep in the SEC Tournament.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey
Featured image by John Russell, courtesy of Vanderbilt University