CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The SEC Tournament.
The SEC is shaping up to send anywhere between six to eight teams to March Madness, and for a year in which six schools brought in new coaches, the season could be considered above expectations for the conference. Both Alabama and Tennessee enjoyed time in the top five of the AP Poll this year, but the SEC Tournament is wide open and up for grabs.
2023 SEC Awards
Player of the Year: Brandon Miller, Alabama
Freshman of the Year: Brandon Miller, Alabama
Transfer of the Year: K.J. Williams, LSU
Coach of the Year: Dennis Gates, Missouri
- G: Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M (15.9 PPG, 4.1 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 86.9 FT%)
- F: Kobe Brown, Missouri (15.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45.3 3P%)
- F: Brandon Miller, Alabama (19.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 40.4 3P%)
- F: K.J. Williams, LSU (17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 41.9 3P%)
- C: Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky (16.4 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 56.4 FG%)
- G: Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee (10.7 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG)
- G: D’Moi Hodge, Missouri (14.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 2.7 SPG, 39.6 3P%)
- G: Ricky Council IV, Arkansas (16.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 SPG)
- F: Colin Castleton, Florida (16.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 3.0 BPG)
- F: Liam Robbins, Vanderbilt (15.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 3.2 BPG)
SEC Tournament Simulation
First Round – Wednesday, Mar. 8
12. South Carolina (11-20, 4-14) vs. 13. Ole Miss (10-21, 3-15) – 7 p.m. on SECN
The two teams split their two meetings earlier this season, with the road team winning each time. As of late, however, South Carolina has been the better team, going 3-4 in their last seven. Ole Miss also just fired Kermit Davis before the season even ended, so the Rebels don’t have much to play for at the moment. South Carolina should win the third matchup of these teams this year.
George’s Pick: 12. South Carolina
11. Georgia (16-15, 6-12) vs. 14. LSU (10-21, 2-16) – 9 p.m. on SECN
This one may be a closer contest than at first glance. Despite LSU’s conference-worst 2-16 record, there’s not too much separating the two team’s performance lately. Georgia has lost five games in a row and is 2-8 in its last ten, including a two-point win over the Tigers on Feb. 14. LSU also has a win over Vanderbilt to their credit. But the duo of Kario Oquendo and Terry Roberts should play well enough to steal a close win for the Dawgs.
George’s Pick: 11. Georgia
Second Round – Thursday, Mar. 9
8. Florida (16-15, 9-9) vs. 9. Mississippi State (20-11, 8-10) – 1 p.m. on SECN
Mississippi State gets a bit of luck with their first game, as they draw a Florida team missing their star player in Colin Castleton. Had Castleton been able to suit up for the Gators, this could have been one of the better matchups of the second round. However, the Florida offense isn’t good enough to put up the required points against a stout Bulldog defense. Mississippi State should win, especially with a strong performance from Tolu Smith. A win would also mean a lot less stressing once Selection Sunday comes around.
George’s Pick: 9. Mississippi State
5. Tennessee (22-9, 11-7) vs. 12. South Carolina (11-20, 4-14) – 3 p.m. on SECN
The final scores from the two matchups between these two teams are as follows: 85-42 and 85-45. That’s an average margin of victory of 41.5 for Tennessee. Even though South Carolina has GG Jackson and has pulled off a shocker at Rupp Arena over Kentucky this year, it’s clear that Tennessee has their number, and that won’t change in Nashville. Although the loss of Zakai Zeigler probably won’t matter against South Carolina, it’s something to monitor going forward.
George’s Pick: 5. Tennessee
7. Auburn (20-11, 10-8) vs. 10. Arkansas (19-12, 8-10) – 7 p.m. on SECN
The 7 v. 10 matchup in the SEC Tournament pits two underachieving teams against one another, as the SEC Media Poll placed Arkansas at #2 and Auburn at #4 in the conference coming into the year. Injuries to Trevon Brazile and Nick Smith hurt the Razorbacks’ depth part of the season. For Auburn, inconsistent guard play was a common sight for most of the year. If this game was at Neville, Auburn could win by double digits. But, being at a neutral site, Arkansas has the edge right now. Auburn has the same away record (4-8) as South Carolina this year. They’re simply an average team away from home, and the return of Nick Smith should propel Arkansas to the next round.
George’s Pick: 10. Arkansas
6. Vanderbilt (18-13, 11-7) vs. 11. Georgia (16-15, 6-12) – 9 p.m. on SECN
Vanderbilt has won the only matchup between these two teams, an 85-82 road victory in Athens. Since that game, Vanderbilt has gone 8-4, while Georgia has stumbled to a 3-8 record in their last 11 games. Yes, big man Liam Robbins is lost for the season for Vanderbilt, but they just beat Mississippi State without him. Look for Vanderbilt to continue their hot streak and move on to the quarterfinals somewhat easily.
George’s Pick: 6. Vanderbilt
Quarterfinals – Friday, Mar. 10
1. Alabama (26-5, 16-2) vs. 9. Mississippi State (20-11, 8-10) – 1 p.m. on ESPN
Despite Alabama’s recent off-the-court troubles, as well as their on-the-court struggles, they’re still the team to beat in the SEC. However, it’s worth noting that Mississippi State led late against the Tide in their last matchup in Tuscaloosa, and it’s not off the table that they could surprise again. Defensively, the Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the conference. But I’m concerned about Mississippi State’s ability to stay in the game if Alabama is able to hit their threes consistently. The Bulldogs are only shooting 27.3% from 3PT range this year, which is literally last in all of college basketball. It would take an abnormally efficient day from behind the arc for the Bulldogs to pull the upset here.
George’s Pick: 1. Alabama
4. Missouri (23-8, 11-7) vs. 5. Tennessee (22-9, 11-7) – 3 p.m. on ESPN
Chaos ensued the last time these two met, as DeAndre Gholston hit an off-balance, running, buzzer-beating three to stun Tennessee in Knoxville. Both teams should be hungry for a rematch, and this might be the best matchup of the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Tennessee, it’ll be without Zakai Zeigler, which could be the difference-maker for the Vols. Missouri’s defense is great at forcing turnovers, and if Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James can’t create shots at a high level, the game could swing Missouri’s way. Missouri will win, but it’ll be close, just like the last game.
George’s Pick: 4. Missouri
2. Texas A&M (23-8, 15-3) vs. 10. Arkansas (19-12, 8-10) – 7 p.m. on SECN
Texas A&M has been one of the hottest teams in the country since conference play started, and they enter this matchup having just beaten Alabama. Arkansas comes in having lost three games in a row, but they beat Texas A&M earlier this year, without Nick Smith as well. Now that Nick Smith is back, this game could go either way. However, Henry Coleman III and Julius Marble have been playing well lately, and I don’t think Arkansas’s frontcourt can keep up with the duo. Wade Taylor IV vs. Nick Smith and Anthony Black should be a good matchup as well, but Texas A&M should win this game.
George’s Pick: 2. Texas A&M
3. Kentucky (21-10, 12-6) vs. 6. Vanderbilt (18-13, 11-7) – 9 p.m. on SECN
Vanderbilt just beat Kentucky, at Rupp no less. Who’s to say it won’t happen again? I will say it. It’s going to be very difficult for Vanderbilt to beat Kentucky without Liam Robbins for the second time. While the ‘Dores won, they got outrebounded 48-35, and Kentucky shot just 3-19 from three. Kentucky will shoot better than that in the rubber match, and the Wildcats will find a way to win.
George’s Pick: 3. Kentucky
Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 11
1. Alabama (26-5, 16-2) vs. 4. Missouri (23-8, 11-7) – 1 p.m. on ESPN
For all that Missouri does well, they do not rebound the ball particularly well on the offensive side of the ball or on defense. That can be blamed partially on their shots going in the basket on offense and their forcing turnovers on defense, but Alabama is an elite rebounding team that could get plenty of second-chance opportunities against Missouri. In their only matchup this year, Alabama won by 21 at Mizzou. Yes, that was without Kobe Brown, but Alabama dispatched the Tigers pretty handily. However, Missouri only managed 3-28 from behind the arc, their lowest mark of the year. A good shooting day and the return of Kobe Brown are just what the doctor ordered for Mizzou. Even a 30~35% 3P% could be enough to get Missouri the win, and given Alabama’s recent struggles, this could be a bit of an upset.
George’s Pick: 4. Missouri
2. Texas A&M (23-8, 15-3) vs. 3. Kentucky (21-10, 12-6) – 3 p.m. on ESPN
Both teams come into the tournament with a bit of momentum, as Texas A&M and Kentucky combine for a 24-6 record over each team’s last 30 games. Texas A&M did suffer their first conference loss to the Wildcats back in January, but they’ve been the more consistent team over the course of the season. Kentucky has Oscar Tshiebwe, of course, but Texas A&M has the manpower down low to at least contain the center. The backcourt is advantageous for Texas A&M, as Wade Taylor IV has been playing as well as any guard in the conference right now. If Kentucky gets in foul trouble, watch out. Texas A&M makes the most free throws of any team in the country, and they shoot them at a 76% clip. The Aggies are the better team, and they’ll likely advance.
George’s Pick: 2. Texas A&M
Championship – Sunday, Mar. 12
2. Texas A&M (23-8, 15-3) vs. 4. Missouri (23-8, 11-7) – 1 p.m. on ESPN
These teams, both exceeding pre-season expectations, have met twice before this season, and Texas A&M has won both by an average margin of 13.5 PPG. Expect this game to be closer, however, as Missouri comes into the tournament ranked and has won four games in a row. Dennis Gates will have his team prepared, but Texas A&M is too consistent and can be a matchup nightmare for Missouri. The Aggies will make some noise in Nashville and secure the auto-bid.
George’s Pick: 2. Texas A&M