Bracketology Preview: SEC Predictions

After a short weekend break to watch some crazy college basketball, Day 4 of my Bracketology Previews has begun! Today, we will take an in-depth look at the SEC and some teams that are possibly being overlooked by those across the country! The SEC does not usually get a lot of teams in the tournament each year, like the ACC or Big-12, but always provides the NCAA Tournament with National Championship caliber teams. From Kentucky to Florida, the SEC contains some historic programs that are always continuing to add trophies to their trophy cases. Let’s take a look at what the SEC has to offer all of us college basketball fans!

(* Denotes neutral court game)

 

Kentucky Wildcats (22-5) (12-2)

RPI Rank: 7  BPI Rank: 11  AP Rank: 11

Best Wins: v.s. #7 North Carolina*, v.s. #24 South Carolina, v.s. #13 Michigan State*

Worst Losses: @ Tennessee, @ #24 Florida

 

Entering the season with 5-five star recruits, Kentucky has been and continues to be a fan-favorite to win the National Championship. Led by Malik Monk (21.4 PPG, 41.4 3P%), the Wildcats have been virtually impossible to beat in the SEC this season. As Kentucky heads into the final stretch of their regular season with a 22-5 record, I do not think anybody has any doubts about this Kentucky team. They can shoot lights out from long-range and can expose smaller teams they face in the paint. Without veteran players, this Kentucky Wildcat team will be very difficult to stop as they gain momentum into the SEC Tournament:

February 21st – @ Missouri – W 87-63

February 25th – v.s. Florida – W 74-71

February 28th – v.s. Vanderbilt – W 84-66

March 4th – @ Texas A&M – W 77-73

Final Record: 26-5 (16-2)

 

Down the stretch, Kentucky plays their toughest game home, in Rupp Arena, versus their in conference rival, Florida. The Gators pummeled Kentucky in Gainesville earlier in the season, but this Wildcats team wants revenge. I believe Kentucky will edge out the Gators at home and be on their way to another conference title. Malik Monk has been one of the best players in the country all season and can get going in a matter of seconds. The Kentucky Wildcats will be a tough team to play in the tournament and have a chance to make a National Championship run.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 1

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 3

 

Florida Gators (22-5) (12-2)

RPI Rank: 8  BPI Rank: 6  AP Rank: 13

Best Wins: v.s. #8 Kentucky, v.s. Miami*, @ Arkansas

Worst Losses: v.s. Vanderbilt

 

The Florida Gators are an interesting team this season. Not only do they not have any bad losses, but they really only have one great win. The Gators have been sailing through the SEC with no problem, only suffering two losses so far this season, but their next two games are against two of the top teams in the conference. Florida has been a great defensive team all season, but losing their center, John Egbunu, could hurt them on the interior where he averaged 1.5 BPG and 6.6 RPG. I am not sold on the Gators being a team to look at for in March because they are not consistent offensively yet. Let’s take a look at who Florida has coming up:

February 21st – v.s. South Carolina – L 72-76

February 25th – @ Kentucky – L 71-74

March 1st – v.s. Arkansas – W 69-63

March 4th – @ Vanderbilt – W 75-70

Final Record: 24-7 (14-4)

 

If Florida wants to win the SEC regular season title, they will need to win out. Their schedule is rough down the stretch, and with the injury to Egbunu, I just do not see Florida beating South Carolina or Kentucky right now. Florida will still finish the season strong, but will still have question marks surrounding their team, on whether or not they are legit, come time for March Madness.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 3

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 4

 

South Carolina Gamecocks (20-7) (10-4)

RPI Rank: 30  BPI Rank: 43  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #19 Florida, v.s. #25 Michigan, v.s. #18 Syracuse*

Worst Losses: @ Memphis, @ Vanderbilt v.s. Clemson

 

Maybe one of the biggest snubs last season by not making the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina looks as if they are a lock for this season’s tourney. Entering the final two weeks with a 20-7 record, they Gamecocks would really have to falter down the stretch in order to miss the tournament. Led by Sindarius Thornwell (20.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG), the Gamecocks are still in the running for an SEC title and could make some noise in the SEC Tournament! South Carolina has struggled these past few weeks, winning 1 of their last 4, but Thornwell has been playing well and can help South Carolina end their losing skid. Here’s what is next for the Gamecocks:

February 21st – @ Florida – W 76-72

February 25th – v.s. Tennessee – W 84-76

February 28th – v.s. Mississippi St. – W 78-61

March 4th – @ Ole Miss – W 79-77

Final Record: 24-7 (14-4)

 

After their game at Florida, South Carolina should have no problem winning their final few games. As stated before, Florida is missing their center, so if the Gamecocks can dominate rebounding the ball, then they can come out of Gainesville with a victory. South Carolina has been an up and down team all year, but can easily win some tournament games if they get going.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 2

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 6

 

Arkansas Razorbacks (20-7) (9-5)

RPI Rank: 33  BPI Rank: 51  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #21 South Carolina, @ Tennessee, v.s. Alabama

Worst Losses: @ Missouri, v.s. Mississippi St. , v.s. Vanderbilt

 

With a not so impressive resume, the Arkansas Razorbacks are currently sitting on a bubble with little room for error. They picked up a huge victory this past week at South Carolina, but may need another big win to make it to the tournament. Without another signature win, Arkansas could miss the tournament to other out-of-conference bubble teams such as Oklahoma State, who beat the Razorbacks earlier in the season. Arkansas is running out of time and may not have the schedule down the stretch to pick up the win they need:

February 22nd – v.s. Texas A&M – W 76-74

February 25th – @ Auburn – W 86-81

March 1st – @ Florida – L 63-69

March 4th – v.s. Georgia – W 77-71

Final Record: 23-8 (12-6)

 

I believe with a 23-8 record heading into the SEC Tournament, Arkansas would be in good shape for a March Madness bid. As long as they do not suffer another bad loss in their last few games, the Razorbacks should be able to squeak by the committee and into the field of 68.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 4

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 10

 

Alabama Crimson Tide (16-10) (9-5)

RPI Rank: 69  BPI Rank: 64  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #19 South Carolina, @ Georgia, v.s. Vanderbilt

Worst Losses: v.s. Dayton, v.s. Valparaiso*, @ Texas

 

Let us all take a moment and admire the job Avery Johnson has done with this Alabama basketball program. It looks as if Alabama will have a winning record for the second straight season under Johnson and have solidified themselves as a top 5 team in the SEC. Alabama has had a decent season and are currently on the bubble for the tournament. Unless Alabama is able to win out and get a solid win in the SEC tournament, I do not see them making the NCAA Tournament this season, but their future years are very bright. Here is what is next for the Crimson Tide:

February 23rd – v.s. Georgia – W 77-74

February 25th – @ Texas A&M – L 71-76

March 1st – v.s. Ole Miss – W 84-76

March 4th – @ Tennessee – L 72-83

Final Record: 18-12 (11-7)

 

Finishing in the top 5 of the SEC would be a huge accomplishment for Avery Johnson in his second season as the head coach of the Crimson Tide. With a record that would put them as a high seed in the NIT, Alabama has a lot to look forward to in future years!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 5

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Four Out

 

Tennessee Volunteers (15-12) (7-7)

RPI Rank: 49  BPI Rank: 53  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #4 Kentucky, v.s. Kansas State, v.s. Georgia Tech

Worst Losses: v.s. Chattanooga, @ Ole Miss, @ Mississippi St.

 

Tennessee is always a dangerous team at home in the SEC and they have stuck to this statement this season! With upsets over Kentucky, Kansas State, and Georgia Tech, Tennessee has put together a solid resume, but has suffered too many losses. Tennessee is considered to still be on the bubble for March Madness, but in my opinion, the Vols would need a lot of help from other teams losing around the country to make it:

February 22nd – v.s. Vanderbilt – W 81-74

February 25th – @ South Carolina – L 76-84

March 1st – @ LSU – W 77-75

March 4th – v.s. Alabama – W 83-72

Final Record: 18-13 (10-8)

 

If Tennessee can pull out a victory at South Carolina, I think their tournament status goes up slightly. They would still be 19-12 heading into the SEC tournament, but adds another impressive victory to their resume. Regardless of whether or not the Volunteers make it, this season was not a lost one for Tennessee and they have a lot of time to make adjustments for next year!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 6

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Four Out

 

Ole Miss Rebels (16-11) (7-7)

RPI Rank: 71  BPI Rank: 79  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Tennessee, @ Vanderbilt, @ Auburn

Worst Losses: v.s. Middle Tennessee, v.s. Texas A&M, v.s. Georgia

 

Despite the bad losses, Ole Miss did not play terrible this season. Losing Stefan Moody from last season really left a gap for the Rebels to fill, but they fixed that problem nicely. Ole Miss sits tied for sixth in the SEC at the moment and currently is 16-11. For the Rebels to make the tournament at this point, a lot would need to happen and Ole Miss would most likely have to make it to the semifinals or championship of the SEC Tournament. Here is what is left for the Rebels:

February 21st – @ Mississippi St. – L 75-78

February 25th – v.s. Missouri – W 84-70

March 1st – @ Alabama – L 76-84

March 4th – v.s. South Carolina – L 77-79

Final Record: 15-15 (6-12)

 

Ole Miss has some tough games down the final stretch of the season and will most likely suffer some losses on the road. Mississippi State and Alabama have both been very good at home in the SEC this season and then a matchup against South Carolina does not favor the Rebels. Finishing 15-15 wouldn’t be the end of the world for an Ole Miss program that is still trying to rebuild!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 12

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

Texas A&M Aggies (14-12) (6-8)

RPI Rank: 91  BPI Rank: 71  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Virginia Tech*, v.s. Georgia

Worst Losses: v.s. Tennessee, v.s. Vanderbilt

 

After a fantastic year last season with an SEC title, the Aggies came back to Earth this season. After losing some key players last season, Texas A&M has struggled this year on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. They don’t have that go-to guy like last year and are still trying to find themselves as a team. Here is what Texas A&M has to finish the season:

February 22nd – @ Arkansas – L 74-76

February 25th – v.s. Alabama – W 76-71

February 28th – @ Missouri – W 76-69

March 4th – v.s. Kentucky – L 73-77

Final Record: 16-14 (8-10)

 

Texas A&M most likely will not win the conference tournament, meaning they will end up in the NIT. Texas A&M needs to rebuild slightly to get back to the top of the SEC.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 8

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Four Out

 

Vanderbilt Commodores (14-13) (7-7)

RPI Rank: 48  BPI Rank: 56  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #19 Florida, v.s. #21 South Carolina, v.s. Iowa State

Worst Losses: v.s. Bucknell, @ Missouri, @ Middle Tennessee

 

If Vanderbilt didn’t suffer some of the early season losses they did, they would easily be  tournament team. Take out the losses to Bucknell and Missouri and Vanderbilt is suddenly an interesting tournament team! Vanderbilt is slowly growing into a program to watch in the SEC and could be contenders for the SEC within the next five years! Vanderbilt has a chance to continue their rebuild with some wins down the stretch:

February 22nd – @ Tennessee –  L 74-79

February 25th – v.s. Mississippi State – W 77-71

February 28th – @ Kentucky – L 66-84

March 4th – v.s. Florida – L 70-75

Final Record: 15-16 (8-10)

 

At the end of the day, it will be another solid season for Vanderbilt. There is nothing to be disappointed about because the future is bright for the Commodores!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 7

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Four Out

 

Georgia Bulldogs (15-12) (6-8)

RPI Rank: 52  BPI Rank: 66  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ Tennessee, @ Georgia Tech,

Worst Losses: @ Oakland, @ Clemson, @ Texas A&M

 

When you look at Georgia’s losses this season, it is hard to not call them a good team. Although they are 0-6 versus the top 25, 5 of those losses were by single digits. They almost upset Kentucky twice and could have been a solid tournament team with 2 or 3 of these games being wins. Georgia can still make some noise in the SEC tournament, but would need to win it all to make the big dance. Georgia’s schedule down the stretch gives them a chance to get back on track:

February 23rd – @ Alabama – L 74-77

February 25th – v.s. LSU – W 84-63

March 1st – v.s. Auburn – W 76-70

March 4th – @ Arkansas – L 71-77

Final Record: 17-14 (8-10)

 

If Georgia can win out, then they can possibly make the tournament, but it is a long-shot at this point. With two tough away games at Alabama and Arkansas, Georgia will have their hands full. Next year is always a chance to start over and hopefully for the Bulldogs sake, they make the tournament!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 9

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Four Out

 

Auburn Tigers (16-11) (5-9)

RPI Rank: 80  BPI Rank: 86  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Texas Tech*, @ Alabama, v.s. Alabama

Worst Losses: v.s. Boston College*, v.s. Ole Miss, @ Ole Miss

 

Auburn’s season has been successful when you look at where they were last year. The SEC is getting better every year and Auburn is one of those teams getting better. With some solid recruits coming in every year, Bruce Pearl has the Tigers going in the right direction. Auburn has a few more opportunities to pick up some more wins:

February 21st – @ LSU – W 78-73

February 25th – v.s. Arkansas – L 81-86

March 1st – @ Georgia – L 70-76

March 4th – v.s. Missouri – W 76-66

Final Record: 18-13 (7-11)

 

Picking up a few more wins makes Auburn’s resume better than it is now, but they are also a long-shot to make the tournament. Auburn will be a high seed come time for the NIT Tournament this season.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 10

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Four Out

 

Mississippi State Bulldog (14-12) (5-9)

RPI Rank: 122  BPI Rank: 92  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ Arkansas, v.s. Tennessee

Worst Losses: v.s. Lehigh, @ Ole Miss

 

This season has been sorta disappointing for the Bulldogs. With the amount and quality of recruits they had coming in, lots of people believed that Mississippi State would be one of the top teams in the SEC. This belief did not come true. Maybe the Bulldogs will be contenders in future years when this team develops, but they are in no shape to win a title right now:

February 21st – v.s. Ole Miss – W 78-75

February 25th – @ Vanderbilt – L 71-77

February 28th – @ South Carolina – L 61-78

March 4th – v.s. LSU – W 73-65

Final Record: 16-14 (7-11)

 

Mississippi State can always make noise in the SEC tournament, but unless they win, they have no chance of going to the NCAA Tournament. Better luck next year Bulldogs!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 11

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

LSU Tigers (9-17) (1-13)

RPI Rank: 151  BPI Rank: 186  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Houston, v.s. Charleston

Worst Losses: v.s. Mississippi State, v.s. Texas A&M

 

Last season was very disappointing for the Tigers when they failed to make the tournament with Ben Simmons. This season, their program could be next in line for a total rebuild. A 9-17 record this season is not what LSU was looking for at all and they could use these next few years to completely rebuild their program. Here are the final losses for LSU on the season:

February 21st – v.s. Auburn – L 73-78

February 25th – @ Georgia – L 63-84

March 1st – v.s. Tennessee – L 75-77

March 4th – @ Mississippi State – L 65-73

Final Record: 9-21 (1-17)

 

LSU’s season is over and they have nothing to play for. They are in no place to win right now and most likely for years to come with the system and style they are running in Baton Rouge.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 14

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Troy

 

Missouri Tigers (7-19) (2-12)

RPI Rank: 247  BPI Rank: 181  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Arkansas, v.s. Vanderbilt

Worst Losses: v.s. NC Central, v.s. Eastern Illinois

 

I have nothing positive to say about Missouri, so I guess just reread LSU and insert “Missouri” everytime you read “LSU.”:

February 21st – v.s. Kentucky – L 63-87

February 25th – @ Ole Miss – L 70-84

February 28th – v.s. Texas A&M – L 69-76

March 4th – @ Auburn – L 66-76

Final Record: 7-23 (2-16)

 

I would be shocked if Missouri won a game in the final weeks of the season. They just simply are not a good basketball program.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 13

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Utah State

 

So What Will The Conference Tournament Look Like?

The SEC Tournament will probably feature upsets, but, in my opinion, will not be exciting before the semifinal matchups! Kentucky should easily make it to the semifinals and will be the favorite to win it all. South Carolina and Florida will most definitely meet in the semifinals which will be a very interesting matchup! Let’s check out my predictions for the SEC Tournament:

 

First Round:

Ole Miss 78 v.s. Missouri 64

Mississippi State 71 v.s. LSU 67

 

Second Round:

Georgia 74 v.s. Texas A&M 66

Ole Miss 70 v.s. Alabama 76

Auburn 66 v.s. Vanderbilt 61

Mississippi State 60 v.s. Tennessee 75

 

Quarterfinals:

Georgia 77 v.s. Kentucky 81

Alabama 74 v.s. Arkansas 71

Auburn 61 v.s. South Carolina 78

Tennessee 63 v.s. Florida 71

 

Semifinals:

Kentucky 77 v.s. Alabama 64

South Carolina 75 v.s. Florida 72

 

Championship:

Kentucky 83 v.s. South Carolina 78

Champion: Kentucky Wildcats

 

NCAA Tournament Seeding After Conference Tournament (Based on Predictions):

Kentucky Wildcats: #3

Florida Gators: #4

South Carolina Gamecocks: #6

Arkansas Razorbacks: #10

Alabama Crimson Tide: Next Four Out

Tennessee Volunteers: Next Four Out

Ole Miss Rebels: Next Next Next Next Four Out

Texas A&M Aggies: Next Next Next Four Out

Vanderbilt Commodores: Next Next Four Out

Georgia Bulldogs: Next Next Next Four Out

Auburn Tigers: Next Next Next Four Out

Mississippi State Bulldogs: Next Next Next Next Four Out

LSU Tigers: Next Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

Missouri Tigers: Next Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

I do not believe we will see many surprises in this year’s SEC Tournament. Kentucky will likely win the tournament again, but have to face either Florida or South Carolina for that trophy. The SEC continues to grow and continues to improve each and every season. Soon, the SEC will once again be among the top of basketball conferences!

 

Brett Siegel

The Ville ‘20

(Photo from secsports.com)

Brett Siegel

I am currently a sophomore at The University of Louisville, majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Communication. This is my second year being the lead NBA Draft Analyst for CPP and writer for Louisville Basketball. I am a huge sports fan that loves college basketball and watching the players transition from the college court to the big stage in the NBA! If you have any questions or comments, my email is bsiegelsports@gmail.com.

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