It’s no secret that the SEC and it’s fan base is obsessed with football. And why not? Everyone loves winners and one thing SEC football does, is win and win big. SEC Basketball on the other hand isn’t quite as dominant. Despite having on of the most successful programs ever in Kentucky and another program which has been really good winning back to back titles and winning a lot of tournament games over the past 20 years in Florida. Let’s not also forget the consistency and competitiveness of Vanderbilt. Unlike in football, the high tide (no pun intended) hasn’t raised all ships.
Right now it looks that only four teams are likely to make the big dance; Kentucky, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. With the Gamecocks really on the edge of the tournament, it’s possible we could see only three SEC teams in the tournament. Notice LSU, wasn’t mentioned. Unless they win the SEC Tournament, the Tigers will play in the NIT. The other aspect of the Tournament is seeding and it isn’t looking great right now for the SEC. It looks like both Kentucky and Texas A&M may only be as high as 4 seeds.
Now let’s compare this to other leagues. The ACC is probably going to get 7 teams in and maybe 8, and it would be 9 if Louisville didn’t self impose a ban. Within the ACC, you have three teams vying for a 1 seed in UNC, UVA and Miami. All three are probably locks for at least a 1 or a 2 seed. The Pac-12 is looking at 7 teams in though no #1 seeds right now. The Big Ten is looking at 7 teams as is the Big 12, with Kansas perhaps the only team locked in as a 1 seed. Even the Big East will get more teams in than the SEC, and they have two teams vying for 1 seeds in Villanova and Xavier.
Before I start getting hate mail for bashing the conference, let me be clear, the tournament is as wide open as it ever has been. Kentucky has probably the best back court in the country with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. They could very well make a deep run and we know Coach Cal has done it before. Texas A&M is another team with a make up to make a nice run. They are well disciplined on both ends of the court. They have some size, play physical, and smart. Ditto with Vanderbilt. It’s very possible that three SEC teams make it to the second weekend. So sure the conference lacks depth and consistency with the teams up and down the standings, however the teams that will make it, have the make up to make a run. And that’s what makes the NCAA Tournament the best sporting event in the country.
Welcome to March! Let the madness begin!