The SEC Tournament

By: JJ Lanier news services

Most people associate March Madness with the start of the NCAA Tournament, but for most teams the madness begins the week prior, with the conference tournaments.

You’ve got some teams whose only shot at making the big dance is by winning their conference championship. Then you have those lovely “bubble teams” that need to have an impressive showing to help sway the committee to include them. And finally, you have those teams that are safely in, but can improve their seeding with a few conference tournament wins. The SEC Tournament runs the whole gamut this year.

There are seven SEC teams entering the start of the conference tournament that need to win the whole thing in order to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

Out of those seven teams- South Carolina and the bottom six in the standings- if I had to pick one that could possibly make a run, I’d probably go with South Carolina. Not that I think they will do it, but if I had to choose a Jim Carrey “So you’re saying there’s a chance” team, it would be the Gamecocks.

The bubble teams get a little more interesting. Most bracketologists have Florida in, but I just don’t see it. Outside of their win against LSU, they don’t have another Top 25 win while having a few questionable losses.

They also have a worse conference record, and only more win, than a South Carolina team that beat the Gators in their only matchup, but isn’t even being considered to be a tournament team.

Ole Miss, and I guess to an extent, Auburn, are the other two that seem to be on the fringe. I think both of those have proven enough that even a first game exit shouldn’t prevent them from making the tournament. That said, getting a conference tournament win would solidify things a little more, especially for the team from Oxford.

Out of the “locks” Tennessee and Kentucky are playing for a possible one seed, but LSU is the team that intrigues me. With Will Wade’s indefinite suspension for what equates to a seven year old telling his teacher he isn’t chewing gum only to have the gum fly out of his mouth, how will the Tigers adjust?

They are deserving of a two seed, regardless of how they perform in the SEC tournament, but if they lose their first game would the committee downgrade them to a three seed?

The committee has shown in the past they do take player injuries and player availability into consideration when seeding; it’s not beyond the realm of possibility they could do the same thing if a team’s coach has been suspended due to recruiting violations.

As for that one seed battle between Kentucky and Tennessee, I think it depends on how Duke performs in the ACC tournament.

Gonzaga, Virginia, and UNC are all but guaranteed a one seed; if the Blue Devils were to win the ACC with a healthy Zion, I don’t think you can keep them from a one seed, either. If not, it’ll be between the Volunteers and Wildcats for that final coveted spot.

The casual fan won’t start tuning in until next week, which is a shame. For many teams their NCAA tournament has begun.

The buzzer beaters, the joy, the tears, all those things are already taking place in conference tournaments. March madness is here. Let the fun begin.