Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Record: 24-7, 13-5
Kentucky is the favorite, but that doesn’t mean the Aggies should be ignored in the SEC Tournament. There’s a reason they are the 1-seed. A&M took down the Wildcats in overtime a couple weeks ago and come in with a six-Game winning streak. After a midseason slump of five losses in six Games, they are back.
The Aggies are a balanced, all-around squad that can win in multiple ways and that should lead them to the championship Game. Their Schedule isn’t too hard, but they’ll be facing numerous desperate bubble teams looking to make a mark ahead of the NCAA Tournament (Florida and LSU). Vanderbilt could also present a problem in the semis, as those two split in the regular season.
Record: 23-8, 13-5
A lot of money will be on the Wildcats because of the way they are playing and that’s not an entirely bad idea. It’s hard to see any other team in the bottom of the bracket giving Kentucky a problem considering how easily their offense is scoring. Not many will be able to keep up.
Kentucky will face either Ole Miss or Alabama first and then likely South Carolina. None of those teams can compete with Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis in the backcOurt and that should lead to a championship Game appearance. At this point, a title matchup between teams other than Kentucky and Texas A&M would be a surprise.
Record: 24-7, 11-7
The Gamecocks may have the 3-seed, but nothing about this team is that intriguing. They lost a recent home Game to Kentucky by 27 points and will likely play the Wildcats again if they make it to the semifinals. South Carolina is headed for the NCAA Tournament, but that’s about all they can say.
Record: 18-13, 11-7
Ben Simmons and LSU have one last chance to make a run for the NCAA Tournament. But without Keith Hornsby, the likelihood of doing that is slim. The Tigers haven’t won a road Game in a month and the last one was against lowly Auburn. On a neutral cOurt, it seems unwise to back LSU. Then again, they do have Simmons, so anything can happen.
Record: 19-12, 11-7
The Commodores are one team that can provide an upset or two in this Tournament. They have the size and type of team to pickup upsets, but have ultimately been too inconsistent throughout the year to get a better record. Vandy split with UK and A&M and is the only team in the Conference that can say that.
The problem for the Commodores is that they are the 5-seed, meaning they start play on Thursday instead of Friday. Before a possible semifinal meeting with Texas A&M, Vandy will have to beat Tennessee/Auburn and then LSU. For an inconsistent team, that seems like a hard task.
Record: 18-13, 9-9
The Gators are another team on the bubble and the only way they can have a shot for the NCAA Tournament is by winning two Games in this Tourney. That means beating Arkansas and then Texas A&M in the quarterfinals. Betting on that would be a mistake, though, as the Gators have lost five of their last seven Games.
Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama have all picked up a number of upsets this year, but putting together a string of three or Four straight wins is unlikely from any of those teams.
Expect the two favorites, Texas A&M and Kentucky, to meet in the championship Game. It’ll require a team like Florida or Vanderbilt to get hot for them not to reach the final.