Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SEC Tournament First Round Preview and Predictions

The SEC Tournament kicks off Thursday in St. Petersburg, Florida with eight teams trying to extend their seasons one more game. You will remember last year this tournament was rocked by a tornado in downtown Atlanta and culminated in a last place Georgia team taking the title. With some many teams bunched around .500 this tournament should be just as exciting without the weather delays (hopefully).

If you have a chance, take a minute to read this article on (and in the magazine this week) about Alabama's Mykal Riley and his last second shot in the SEC Tournament that may have averted up to 15,000 people being right in the middle of the tornado last year that shut down the Georgia Dome. Riley's story getting to that point in his basketball career in itself is remarkable too.

#4 East Kentucky Wildcats vs #5 West Ole Miss Rebels
Thursday 1PM
TV: Raycom

The first step for the Kentucky Wildcats making a run to the SEC Tournament Championship and continuing their NCAA appearance streak begins with a rematch against an Ole Miss team that beat UK in their only meeting of the season. The Wildcats big letdown in the loss was a 38 percent shooting night, rebounding, and defense. Ole Miss had four starters in double figures. Kentucky lost their last four and five of their last six while the Rebels lost three of their last four. I think the Wildcats play much better than they have of late realizing they want at least one more game until the streak dies.

Pick: Kentucky

#3 West Mississippi State Bulldogs vs #6 East Georgia Bulldogs
Thursday: 3:15 PM
TV: Raycom

Georgia tries to make it two miracle runs in a row starting with Mississippi State Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs of Miss State won the only season meeting by 6 in Athens right in the middle of UGA's 11 game losing streak. Neither team shot the ball very well, but Georgia's 22 turnovers proved to be the difference. Georgia starters really struggled scoring just 28 of the 61 points. Miss State post players were able to dominate inside scoring 35 on 14 for 22 shooting. I don't see another miracle run this year though cold air and rain are moving into Atlanta this weekend...

Pick: Mississippi State

#4 West Alabama Crimson Tide vs #5 East Vanderbilt Commodores
Thursday 7PM
TV: Raycom

Vandy has become a chic pick for an SEC Tournament run with their wins over LSU and South Carolina in thier final three. The Commodores toppled the Tide 79-74 at home in early February led by Center A.J. Ogilvy's 20 points and 12 rebounds. While Vandy was receiving the last season buzz, Alabama won four of their last five including last weekend at Tennessee. I think the Tide's athleticism advantage overcomes Vandy size advantage and Alabama advances in another buzzer beater.

Pick: Alabama

#3 East Florida Gators vs #6 West Arkansas Razorbacks
Thursday 9:15PM
TV: Raycom

Much like their East counterparts, Kentucky, the Florida Gators begin their SEC Tournament championship hopes on Thursday. The Gators draw Arkansas whom they beat 80-65 in Gainesville in mid-January. Florida hit 11 three pointers and forced 19 Razorback turnovers in the win. Arkansas has just two wins away from Bud Walton Arena this season. I think Florida finds their groove shooting and takes down Arkansas relatively easily.

Pick: Florida

Season: 25-22 SU through 3/8

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