Three SEC were invited to this years Big Dance. Below is a preview of the teams and how I presume their success will be in the tournament.
The Bulldogs made an extraordinary run through the SEC tournament to squeak by Tennessee for the championship. MSU received a #13 seed and a date against #4 Washington the regular season conference winner in the Pac 10. The Bulldog's are led by the number one shot blocker in the nation Jarvis Varnado. Dee Bost and Barry Stewart give them a solid back court who can run the team and take care of the ball. In addition, Rick Stansbury has always been a solid coach come tournament time.
The Bulldogs will face a challenging test in Washington who has a stellar back court in Isiah Thomas & Justin Dentmon. Dentmon is a senior laden point guard that should be able to handle the pressing style that Miss. St. will throw at them. The key for Miss. St will be forcing Washington to stay on the outside and not allow any baskets close to the hoop. With Varnado roaming down low he needs to be a disruptive force and not allow Brockmon an opportunity for second chance points.
This is a tough game to call as I can see this going either way but I'm going to go with the Bulldogs as I think they are playing their best basketball of the year so far and Varnado will step up and be the difference.
- They succumbed to the Bulldogs in the SEC final and have been an enigma all year. Picked as a Top 5 team in most preseason polls they have failed to live up to the hype that surrounded them. The Vols have looked like an elite team some games and fallen by the wayside the next. Still they are an intriguing team in this tournament because they do have the talent to make a deep run.
Pearl brings the Volunteers into the first round as a #9 seed and underdog to the #8 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Travis Ford has done an equitable job in his first year as coach. They have notable wins over Oklahoma and Texas and are known to play a scrappy style defense that gives opponents fits. This is where I see the problem for Tennessee. They are not very good defensively and haven't been disciplined when having to play in the half court. Oklahoma St. most certainly will slow them down on route to a victory. Although if Tennessee ever gets motivated I think they win this game but they haven't shown it all year and I don't think they will now.
- Winners of the SEC regular season, they were snubbed by the Tournament committee and given an #8 seed and a first round matchup against an admirable Butler team. I sense the Tigers are fired up and want to make a statement. This will motivate them past Butler, however they will see defeat in the second round against North Carolina.