2007 SEC Tournament Preview
by Jordan Adams - 03/06/2007
Two weeks ago the Florida Gators were perfect in conference play and were thought to be untouchable against SEC foes. Forget February. The real players make their names in March, and right now the defending champs are not looking like a lock in this one.
It's fine and dandy to hold up at home, and that's exactly what Florida did this past Sunday against Kentucky. Granted this is a neutral site, but let's see how these super juniors hold up when everyone else is scrambling for a locked bid for the tourney.
Yes, I know. Mississippi State and Ole Miss don't exactly yell 'danger, danger' when seeing both with byes in this year's postseason bracket. If I were the Gators I would be much more concerned with Tennessee, a team that took them out behind the woodshed last Tuesday, not to mention some off the snakes lying in the weeds such as LSU and Arkansas.
It seems all too easy for the Gators and betting on them could be a good idea, seeing that they should run right through these lesser teams. There is no doubt the SEC is down this year, but somehow I see a couple hurdles on Friday and Saturday. Everyone will be gunning for Florida, but who knows where the major challenge will come from?. Watch out Joahkim Noah, you certainly talk a good game but don't allow your squad to break falter once again.
Florida - On talent alone, this tournament has Florida written all over it. But because of the major underachievement of so many of this conference's teams, we'll see everyone come out of the woodwork to make a last gasp to find a way into the Big Dance. Florida's depth could come in to play, and with one or two of their stars in foul trouble, how will this team respond?
Tennessee - The Vols have already shown they can play with Florida, and even went so far as to blow them out of the water. Tennessee has plenty of scoring guards in Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith and Ramar Smith, but they might have trouble down low if Florida or Kentucky establishes their big men throughout the game.
Vanderbilt - Just when the 'Dores seem to be picking up steam, they drop a game that makes you scratch your head. Derrick Byars, Shan Foster and Dan Cage are as good a trio as any in the league, while point guard Alex Gordon does well to feed these horses the ball. They are already in, but a run to the finals would do wonders to their seeding, likely jumping them up a couple off spots into a more favorable first round match-up.
LSU - Big Baby is back, and while the Tigers played better without him, he is a necessity to any chance their may have in taking the nets down. And that's the only way they dodge the NIT, because we all witnessed that disgusting run where they couldn't win a game to save their season in February. Well, here's their chance to save their season, so go out and win it.
East #4 Kentucky vs. West #5 Alabama - The Tide are pathetic. Seriously, not only should they never have been a top 10 team when the season started, but they also should have been dumped from consideration from the NCAA Tournament weeks ago. Stop giving this team outs, they are a joke. Kentucky will want this one more, and Tubby Smith's team will move on to play Mississippi State.
West #3 Arkansas vs. East #6 South Carolina - The Hogs opened up some eyes by winning in Vandy last Saturday. They need at least two wins to keep hope alive, while South Carolina looks to make a similar run like last season. They met Florida in the finals last year but had to settle for the NIT, thought they did win that for the second straight year.
West #4 Auburn vs. East #5 Georgia - Auburn seems to be motivated just at home, while the Bulldogs most likely need to find a spot in the finals. It's a shame Mike Mercer got hurt, because this Georgia team would have been ultra dangerous right about now.
East #3 Tennessee vs. West #6 LSU - The most intriguing of the first-round match-ups. Had these two teams met last postseason, it would have been a lights-out game. This year, not so much. But still LSU could certainly play spoiler for a lot of teams here and inch closer to making an automatic bid somewhat realistic.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
If these seedings were shown at the beginning of the season, most wouldn't believe what they were seeing. LSU and Alabama need major runs, while everyone else is looking for a game or two for a hopeful shot come Selection Sunday. Florida is the clear-cut favorite and while an early exit wouldn't be shocking based on how they are playing, anything short of the conference postseason title will be a major disappointment and give them no better than a No. 2 seed.