Heading into the season, the SEC was expected to be a stacked conference. Florida was expected to win the SEC by many people after landing transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. However, Florida fell out of the AP Top 25 rankings early on and never returned. They’re still likely going to make the Tournament, but fans were expecting more from the regular season. Georgia is another team who disappointed some fans. Anthony Edwards was one of the best recruits in the country. He has had a historic season but the Bulldogs have some work to do in their conference tournament to live up to their expectations.
The regular season came to a close on Saturday, and the official All-SEC teams were released on Tuesday. The tournament is set to tip off on Wednesday afternoon as Georgia takes on Ole Miss. Below is our All-SEC teams, as well as awards, followed by an in depth breakdown and prediction of the entire SEC Tournament bracket.
Kira Lewis Jr. – Alabama
Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky
Mason Jones – Arkansas
Anthony Edwards – Georgia
Reggie Perry – Mississippi State
Keyontae Johnson – Florida
Nick Richards – Kentucky
Samir Doughty – Auburn
Saben Lee – Vanderbilt
Breein Tyree – Ole Miss
Freshman of the Year – Anthony Edwards, Georgia
Coach of the Year – Bruce Pearl, Auburn
Defensive Player of the Year – Yves Pons, Tennessee
Player of the Year – Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky
First Round – Wednesday, March 11
Georgia vs. Ole Miss – 7:00 pm – SEC Network
For both of these teams, there were higher expectations heading into the season. Each team is capable of competing with every team in this conference. This will be a high scoring close battle. Anthony Edwards vs. Breein Tyree will be the big matchup in this game. Rayshaun Hammonds, who averages 12.6 points per game, will have a huge impact on the outcome of this game
Prediction: Georgia-76 Ole Miss-70
Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas – 9:30 pm – SEC Network
Vanderbilt has been the worst team in the SEC this season. Their best player, Aaron Nesmith, suffered a foot injury and has been out since January. Prior to conference play, Arkansas was in the AP Top 25 and were being looked at as a team that could potentially make a tournament run. But after losing five straight conference games in February, the Razorbacks dropped out of tournament talks. In his first season as the head coach of Arkansas, Eric Musselman has done a decent job. With a few conference tournament wins, Musselman could get the Razorbacks back in the tournament.
Prediction: Vanderbilt-63 Arkansas-75
Second Round – Thursday, March 12
Alabama vs. Tennessee – 1:00 pm – SEC Network
Following one of the best seasons in Volunteer history, Tennessee has struggled a bit this season. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Yvon Pons, has been tremendous for Tennessee on the defensive end of the court. Last time the two teams squared off, Pons held John Petty Jr. to just eight points. Kira Lewis and Jordan Bowden will be a big time matchup as well. The difference maker in this game will be if the Crimson Tide can stop John Fulkerson.
Prediction: Alabama-74 Tennessee-67
Georgia vs. Florida – 3:30 pm – SEC Network
Last time these two teams faced off, Florida used a late run to secure the road win in Athens. Scottie Lewis will have his hands full with guarding Anthony Edwards. Both highly touted freshman have had huge impacts on their team. This could be Anthony Edwards final college basketball game, so he will likely be trying to put the game in his own hands a lot. Georgia will need more than just Edwards and Hammonds if they want to pull off this upset.
Prediction: Georgia-58 Florida-62
Missouri vs. Texas A&M – 7:00 pm – SEC Network
Both of these teams have had an up and down season. It’s hard to tell what you’re going to get out of either team for every game. Texas A&M suffered some brutal non-conference losses. However, once conference play started they improved their play. Missouri was similar with a few bad non-conference losses such as Charleston Southern. The last team these teams faced off Missouri was unable to get anything going offensively. Mitchell Smith led the Tigers in scoring with nine points. For Texas A&M, Josh Nebo was the leading scorer with 18 points. On Wednesday, Nebo will be the guy that the Tigers need to limit from scoring inside.
Prediction: Missouri-65 Texas A&M-70
South Carolina vs. Arkansas – 9:30 pm – SEC Network
These two teams have not seen each other since January 29th where South Carolina won a nail biter 79-77. We should have another tough battle given the fact that both of these two teams could be fighting to stay alive for an NCAA Tournament birth. A.J. Lawson and Mason Jones will be the two guys to take over this game for each team. The winner of this game will have to earn it.
Prediction: South Carolina-74 Arkansas-73
Quarterfinals – Friday, March 13
Alabama vs. Kentucky – 1:00 pm – ESPN
After a shaky start in non-conference play, Kentucky has shown why they were a front-runner for the national title heading into this season. Kentucky will rely on Ashton Hagans to guard Kira Lewis. Immanuel Quickley scored 19 points on five threes the last time these teams faced off. Kentucky would have to go ice cold from beyond the arc for them to lose this game.
Prediction: Alabama-61 Kentucky-76
Florida vs. Mississippi State – 3:30 pm – ESPN
Reggie Perry dominated Florida the last time these two teams squared off. He scored 27 points and helped lead the Bulldogs to a victory after being down 16 points late in the first half. A lot of pressure will be on Keyontae Johnson, who guarded Perry the last time these two teams played. The Gators will be looking to get revenge. This game should be down to the wire.
Prediction: Mississippi State-68 Florida-71
Texas A&M vs. Auburn – 7:00 pm – SEC Network
Just a week ago, Texas A&M was able to pull off the upset in Auburn. Josh Nebo was crucial for the Aggies down the stretch prior to fouling out of the game with 1:42 left. Samir Doughty scored 25 points for the Tigers. He will play a huge factor on Auburn making a run to the SEC Tournament championship. It will be difficult for the Aggies to defeat the Tigers twice in a little over a week.
Prediction: Texas A&M-71 Auburn-82
South Carolina vs. LSU – 9:30 pm – SEC Network
South Carolina needs to make a run in this tournament to have any shot at making the NCAA Tournament. However, LSU is already in. Last year, LSU was upset by Florida in the quarterfinals. Frank Martin has done a terrific job coaching his guys up all year. The A.J. Lawson-Skyler Mays matchup should be a good one. The Gamecocks need Maik Kotsar to step his game up to win this game.
Prediction: South Carolina-83 LSU-78
Semifinals – Saturday, March 14
Kentucky vs. Florida – 1:00 pm – ESPN
Heading into this season, these two were expected to be the front runners in the SEC. On Saturday, we saw the potential in bot of these teams. Kentucky ended up beating the Gators by one point in a great game. Many college basketball fans would love to see this rematch. This will be one of the best games in this tournament.
Prediction: Kentucky-75 Florida-77
South Carolina vs. Auburn – 3:30 pm – ESPN
These two teams have not played each other since January 22nd. The Tigers took that victory by 13 points. Samir Doughty and A.J. Lawson will both need to continue playing the way they have been. This is another situation where the Gamecocks will need the win to get into the NCAA Tournament. However, the Tigers will not be stopped and will move on to the championship.
Prediction: South Carolina-71 Auburn-77
Championship – Sunday, March 15
Florida vs. Auburn – 1:00 pm – ESPN
After the loss at home to Texas A&M, Auburn needed a conference tournament run like this to improve their seeding. Auburn will also be looking to get revenge on the Gators after losing by 22 points in Gainesville in January. J’Von McCormick and Austin Wiley are going to step up in their final conference tournament game and help Auburn get the win
Predictions: Florida-68 Auburn-79