You know what? I've tried to think of a million different ways to start this off, but the only beginning paragraph I can think of is one that sounds strikingly similar to last year. But hey, I correctly predicted every single SEC Tournament game last year so it can't be all that bad right?
And no, I don't pretend to be an expert in college basketball. Though I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express the other night, if that means anything. To keep things rolling I'll just use the same format I did last year. Because you know, I'm lazy and I actually kept the template.
The Seeds (or in other words, conference standings):
No. 1: Kentucky Wildcats, 30-1 overall (16-0 SEC)
No. 2: Tennessee Volunteers, 18-13 overall (10-6 SEC)
No. 3: Vanderbilt Commodores, 21-10 overall (10-6 SEC)
No. 4: Florida Gators, 22-9 overall (10-6 SEC)
No. 5: Alabama Crimson Tide, 20-10 overall (9-7 SEC)
No. 6: Mississippi State Bulldogs, 21-10 overall (8-8 SEC)
No. 7: Ole Miss Rebels, 18-12 overall (8-8 SEC)
No. 8: LSU Tigers, 17-13 overall (7-9 SEC)
No. 9: Arkansas Razorbacks, 18-13 overall (6-10 SEC)
No. 10: Auburn Tigers, 15-15 overall (5-11 SEC)
No. 11: Georgia Bulldogs, 14-16 overall (5-11 SEC)
No. 12: South Carolina Gamecocks, 10-20 overall (2-14 SEC)
As always, after the jump is a mini-breakdown of each team and my predictions for the tournament. They say that lightning doesn't strike twice. We'll see about that.
The Kentucky Wildcats have been the best team in the country for the entire season. There just isn't any other way to break it down. The Wildcats are led by Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb and a plethora of other extremely talented players. As a team, the 'Cats 17th in the country in both total scoring and rebounds per game. About the only thing they don't do well is getting assists. But then again, it's not like it's been an issue for them either.
The Tennessee Volunteers are probably the surprise team in the SEC. They don't do anything particularly well and were horrible out of conference to start the season (they were 3-6 in their first 9 games this year), but they picked it up late and won games when it mattered most. Of course, the late addition of Jarnell Stokes didn't hurt either.
The Vanderbilt Commodores have probably the best one-two punch in the nation in terms of scoring. John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor can put on a show so great, that Thunder Over Louisville actually hides in freight. Yes, that comes straight from a source. They even played Kentucky close in the two times they've played them. Does that mean that the third time will be the charm?
The Florida Gators are ironically the only SEC team other than Kentucky to be ranked. I'm not really sure why Vanderbilt isn't, but that's another issue for a different day. The Gators can shoot, there is no doubt about that. But a lack of height and untimely injuries tells me the Gators have no chance.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are led by Jamychal Green and Tony Mitchell who are double threats. They can both score (over 13 points per game) and can rebound (over 7 rebounds per game). Oh, and Tony Mitchell can also knock down the occasional three pointer over thirty-percent of the time.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are the quintessential hot and cold team. If not for a five game losing streak near the end of the conference schedule, the Bulldogs could have easily challenged for a top four seed and a first round bye in the SEC tournament. Arnett Moultrie is one of the most underrated players in the conference if not the entire country.
If it wasn't for team rebounding, the Ole Miss Rebels wouldn't rank in the top 193 in any of the four main statistical categories. They rank 26th in the country in terms of total rebounds per game, but everything else is so far below average that it just isn't even worth mentioning.
The LSU Tigers were much improved from last years squad that finished last in the SEC. Yes, I know that going from 12th to 8th isn't that big of a jump, but let's give our friends down in Baton Rouge a pat on the back. All I ask for in return is some boudin. If you don't know what that is and claim to know or have hung out with LSU fans, you're lying. Because you don't know LSU or any LSU fans.
The Arkansas Razorbacks went from possible NCAA tournament bid to a possible second round match up against Kentucky in the SEC tournament in about a week. Thought it took a while to kick in, the season ending injury to Marshawn Powell early on turned into a crushing blow for the Razorbacks. Though B.J. Young looks to be a force in the SEC over the next couple of years.
The Auburn Tigers look like they are a beaten team. Much like the Jeff Lebo years (and yes, I'm qualified to speak on Jeff Lebo), the Tigers don't really have an identity. I guess you could say that they rebound the ball well. At least better than anything else they do, statistically speaking anyway.
The Georgia Bulldogs are, wait ... they beat the Gators two weeks ago? Are you kidding me!
The South Carolina Gamecocks beat Georgia and Alabama. That's pretty much it. If you're looking for something else, I guess I could say that Malik Cooke and Bruce Ellington can hit some three pointers fairly well.
Game 1: (No. 8) LSU vs. (No. 9) Arkansas
Game 2: (No. 5) Alabama vs. (No. 12) South Carolina
Game 3: (No. 7) Ole Miss vs. (No. 10) Auburn
Game 4: (No. 6) Mississippi State vs. (No. 11) Georgia
Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. (No. 1) Kentucky
Game 6: Winner of Game 2 vs. (No. 4) Florida
Game 7: Winner of Game 3 vs. (No. 2) Tennessee
Game 8: Winner of Game 4 vs. (No. 3) Vanderbilt
Game 9: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6
Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8
Game 11: Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 10
Arkansas over LSU
Alabama over South Carolina
Ole Miss over Auburn
Mississippi State over Georgia
Kentucky over Arkansas
Florida over Alabama
Tennessee over Ole Miss
Vanderbilt over Mississippi State
Kentucky over Florida
Vanderbilt over Tennessee
Kentucky over Vanderbilt
If you have to know, I'm expecting to hit around half the games this year correctly. Last year I was pretty confident in each game, but this year there seems to be many more variables. And I've never been good with variables of any kind.
What do you think?