2013 Tournament Breakdown: SEC
March 13-17 Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, Tenn.) | Bracket
For whatever reason, I always associate the SEC tournament with Atlanta. Maybe it was the tornado. Anyway, Big Blue Nation will be here in full force, too. For a change, though, they will be willing their team into the NCAA bracket instead of worrying about which seed or region they’ll land. This is another major-conference tournament where a) Just about anything is possible, and b) There are huge bubble ramifications for a number of teams. The bracket sets up nicely for some drama, too.
Key Matchup: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Tennessee (possible quarterfinal)
This game, assuming Tennessee gets past the South Carolina/Mississippi State winner, is huge for a number of reasons. Alabama absolutely has to have this one to keep its at-large hopes alive. Tennessee almost certainly needs it, too, to stay in the field of 68 on Sunday. Also, Florida is potentially the semifinal opponent, and the Vols have had the Gators’ number regularly in recent seasons. That could blow up this side of the bracket ahead of the final, opening the door for a possible bid thief.
Team to Watch: Missouri
Home Missouri is a fearsome beast. Road Missouri is a SWAC team. What’s Neutral Site Missouri like? Well, it beat Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game. The Tigers are also 9-5 in their last 14 games with the losses coming by 3, 2, 2, 2 and in OT. The Tigers certainly can handle the Texas A&M/Auburn winner and then Mississippi in a quarterfinal. Then they would get Kentucky, Road Arkansas or Vanderbilt in a semi? Very workable.
Hottest Storyline: Kentucky’s fate and is Florida great?
Kentucky could end up completely out of the NCAAs. The Cats could land in the First Four, which would make Dayton 1,000 percent more interesting next week. They could slap together some wins and end up as a generic 10-seed somewhere. Still a fascinating story to follow. And what of Florida, owners of the Unclutch Label? Will the Gators win their three games in routs and become the most debated 2-seed in the NCAAs? Will they lose again in a close one? Will they actually win a close one and then everyone will rip them for playing a close one against a mediocre SEC team? Fun storylines!
The Pick: Florida
Quant > Narrative. The Gators are the best team in this league, and they have a little something to prove at this point, too.