by Robert Ferringo - 03/06/2006
Have you ever seen the show House on Fox? I'm not really into it, but I know a lot of people that are fanatics. The basic premise is that bitter, know-it-all Dr. House spends all of his time limping around a hospital, insulting people and diagnosing bizarre and fantastic diseases like spontaneous combustion and Creutzfeldt-Jakob.
What does this have to do with the Southeastern Conference Tournament? Well, nothing. But I've decided to play House (not as gay as it sounds) and diagnose the unusual ailment that each of top teams in the SEC are afflicted with.
The 2006 SEC Tournament starts Thursday, March 9, and will span four days until a victor arises on Sunday afternoon. The Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, TN is the chosen venue.
Here's a look at the six top contenders identified by disease or disorder:
1) Acromegaly: When the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormones this results in excessive enlargement in the hands, feet, and other parts of the body.
To look at the LSU Tigers (22-7, 14-2) and their massive frontcourt you would think they were afflicted with this disease. Led by "Big Baby" Davis (6-9, 310), Tyrus Thomas (6-9, 220) and Tasmin Mitchell (6-7, 230) the Tigers have been pushing people around all season. However, the key to their success in March will likely be the continued excellence of guard Darrel Mitchell (18.0 ppg).
LSU shouldn't be tested until the semis, when they'll likely face Arkansas or Florida. If they make get past that they should cut down the nets.
2) Alien Hand Syndrome: A person can feel sensation in the affected hand but thinks that the hand is not part of their body. They believe that they have no control over the hand's movement and that a force outside of their body possesses it.
What Ron Pearl has done with the Tennessee Volunteers (21-6, 12-4) this season has been remarkable. The former UW-Milwaukee coach inherited some talent, but the Volunteers have been inspired by their coach and are playing as if possessed.
With seven players averaging better than seven points and three rebounds per game, I think that Tennessee is the most balanced team in the conference. They will likely face a tricky USC team in the quarters, and then the Kentucky/Alabama winner in the semis. I don't think they have that three-game run in them.
3) Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome: Involves distortions in body images, time and shapes. Objects appear much larger or smaller than they really are.
The Florida Gators (24-6, 10-6) strolled into the AP Top Ten back in December by virtue of winning their first 16 games. But the Gators are just 7-6 since Jan. 21, including a three-game losing streak. So what's the story? Are they a good team? A great team? A first-round flameout?
Florida looked outstanding in their victory at Kentucky on Sunday and has some momentum. The Gators may be tested by Arkansas in the quarters. Taureen Green has been up-and-down over the last month (single-digits in five of the last eight games). If FU runs up against LSU in the semis, Green better bring the A-game.
4) Apraxia: A neurological disorder characterized by the inability to perform learned (familiar) movements on command, even though the command is understood and both the desire and the capacity to perform the movement are present.
This describes the Kentucky Wildcats (19-11, 9-7) perfectly. Kentucky has plenty of talent, an outstanding coach, and are clearly a program familiar with winning. But they just can't seem to put a consistent stretch together. I think that a fresh start in the postseason is exactly what they need.
Kentucky should dominate Auburn in the first round, and then will meet an Alabama team that they match up very favorably with. Oh, and any thought of them winning this tourney is a near pipe dream. The only school to ever win this tournament without the benefit of a bye was Arkansas in 2000.
5) Ondine's Curse: Failure of the central nervous system to control breathing while you're asleep. Basically, if you fall asleep without a respirator your body forgets to breath and you die.
If anyone sleeps on the Arkansas Razorbacks (21-8, 10-6), they could see their postseason life perish. Ronnie Brewer (18-5-3) is the jack-of-all-trades leader of an overlooked squad. The Razorbacks have won five straight, and their six conference losses were by a total of 16 points.
Their first-round game worries me. Arkansas will play Georgia this Thursday, after hammering the Bulldogs, 74-57, on Sunday. It's very difficult to beat the same team in back-to-back games because it's such a rare scenario. Also, the Razorbacks have already lost to inferior clubs (Mississippi St. and Ole Miss), showing that they take an upset as easily as they can dish one out.
6) Congenital Indifference to Pain: Condition where a child cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain. Someone with CIPA could stick their hand into a deep fryer and pull out a chicken breast without blinking, despite tremendous physical damage to the hand.
The Alabama Crimson Tide (17-11, 10-6) took a huge hit back in January when they lost leading scorer and top big man Chuck Davis. The resilient Crimson Tide have forged ahead - seemingly feeling no pain - and finished tied for second in the West. The key has been the virtuoso performance of sophomore guard Ronald Steele (18.3 ppg in SEC play).
Alabama seems to have already secured an at-large bid, but they are still desperate for a win in the conference tourney to lock it up. Their quarterfinal meeting with Kentucky should be one of the best games of the tourney.
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The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks service.