Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
When: March 8-12.
Championship Game: March 12 — 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN.
2016 Champion: Kentucky.
The SEC seems like the forgotten conference in college hoops. They rule the football world, but outside of Kentucky, they aren’t talked about much on a national scale when it comes to basketball. With at least four teams currently in the NCAA tournament field, as well as some others fighting for a spot, this tournament should be a good way for the SEC to grab some national headlines.
Action gets going Thursday night with two first-round matchups. Ultimately, we’ll arrive at the championship game on Sunday, which happens to be one of the final conference title matchups to be played.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at the favorite, contenders, and pretenders.
The Favorite — Kentucky
Same old story, just a different season. Kentucky is yet again the class of the SEC. Led by their two lottery locks in Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, John Calipari has another national title contender on his hands. Right now, Kentucky is a two-seed. But for them to reach the one line, they’ll need to win this tournament. And, they will also need a bad loss from a team like North Carolina.
But even if they end up as a two-seed, the Wildcats will be a popular final four pick once the brackets are released.
Contenders — Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt
As they sit along the four-seed line right now, Florida is safe. But if they can win the tournament while knocking off Kentucky, we could even see them end up as a three-seed.
Arkansas winning their first game should lock them in as an eight- or nine-seed. South Carolina could land themselves as a five-seed if they make their way to the title game. But for now, they are hovering around the seven-seed area, just hoping to reach that matchup with the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt needs to take down Texas A&M, then give Florida a good fight, if they want to stay in the field. As of now, they are slated to be in the 10- or 11-seed area.
Pretenders — Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Missouri
Wow. Now that is a long list of teams that I have little-to-no interest in watching play basketball. Football? Sign me up; let’s get this going. But hoops? No thanks. Every one of these teams would need to win the SEC tournament to make it into the tournament field.
That’s a tall task, seeing as Kentucky or Florida are most likely standing at the end of the line.
What do you think—does John Calipari have another sure thing on his hands?