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Busting Brackets

2011 SEC Tournament Predictions


Yesterday was a fun-filled day around the college basketball world (unless your team name started with an “R” and ended with an “utgers”), as more tickets were punched to the Big Dance. Northern Colorado and Long Island are both going dancing. That we know for sure.

We had other teams who might have played their way out (Nebraska), and some who might have played their way in (Marquette and Colorado). Don’t you just love this time of year?

And the fun doesn’t stop there, as we’ve got another big conference tournament getting underway today, as SEC tourney play begins at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

I talked about the possibilities of what could happen this week in Atlanta, but now it’s gut check time. Let’s make some predictions:


E4 – Georgia vs. W5 – Auburn

Everyone seemed to think that Georgia was out of the tournament after their loss in the regular season finale to Alabama, but losses from other bubble teams such as Nebraska could really help them out. Of course, they can’t lose to Auburn if they want to get into the NCAA tournament. That’s all there is to it. The Bulldogs should have been better than they were this year, so perhaps we see a team with a chip on their shoulder playing in their home state. Oh, and remember what happened the last time Georgia played in this tournament in Atlanta? After the Georgia Dome suffered wind damage, the Bulldogs went on to win to games in one day in route to an SEC tournament title as the sixth seed from the Eastern Division (GREAT story by Ron Higgins on this). I just don’t see them losing this game. Georgia 70, Auburn 57.

W3 – Ole Miss vs. E6 – South Carolina

Don’t have much confidence in either one of these teams, as to me, they are just playing to see who loses to Kentucky in the quarterfinals (anti-climactic quarterfinal prediction, I know). The Gamecocks won the regular season meeting, but that doesn’t mean anything come tournament time. It also doesn’t help that South Carolina comes in having lost eight of nine. That one win? You guessed it, against the Rebels. Andy Kennedy‘s should be excited to get a chance at the Wildcats, a team that they’ve already beaten this season. Ole Miss 68, South Carolina 64.

W4 – Arkansas vs. E5 – Tennessee

On the surface, the Vols look like the obvious choice. It doesn’t take a basketball genius to realize that the SEC East was far superior to the SEC West this season, and when Tennessee is the fifth best team in the division, that’s saying something. While Bruce Pearl‘s teams haven’t always played their best basketball in this particular tournament, they can cause too many matchup problems for the Razorbacks in this one. They can’t let Rodnei Clarke get hot from outside early on, or that will allow Arkansas to keep it close. But again, Tennessee is the better team here and they’ll find a way to win. Tennessee 76, Arkansas 67.

E3 – Vanderbilt vs. W6 – LSU

Yes, I’m a Vandy fan, but I won’t be presenting by viewpoints in a homer-ish fashion. The Commodores are in the middle of another late-season slump, which has unfortunately been all too familiar in recent years. However, the two straight losses to Kentucky and Florida aren’t exactly “bad” losses. The way they lost to the Gators was disheartening since they couldn’t guard a fly, but Florida is pretty good. That’s why they won the regular season title. LSU is no Florida though, and Vandy is the more talented team here. But I don’t expect it to be pretty. Vanderbilt 71, LSU 60.


W1 – Alabama vs. E4 – Georgia

And we’ve got the rematch of the so-called “bubble” game that finished the regular season for both teams. Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide still aren’t getting a whole lot of credit for winning a weak division, but folks, this is a good basketball team. With that being said, I’ve just got a feeling about this Georgia team. A win over Auburn won’t solidify their spot in the NCAA tournament, but a win over Alabama probably would. As much as I think we’re underestimating Alabama, this is a better spot for the Bulldogs in my opinion. Georgia advances in a thriller. Georgia 66, Alabama 64.

E2 – Kentucky vs. W3 – Ole Miss

Look, I know that Ole Miss beat Kentucky back in February in Oxford. But the Wildcats are simply too good to let that happen again. No matter how good they are or how bad they are, Kentucky always seems to play well in this tournament and in this building. I do love the Brandon Knight vs. Chris Warren matchup, but it’s the matchups everywhere else that are going to give Ole Miss problems. Kentucky hasn’t played well on the road this season, so they could slip up and get beat. Just don’t see it happening though. Kentucky 80, Ole Miss 61.

E1 – Florida vs. E5 – Tennessee

I tend to believe that the teams who play in the first round and get the juices flowing tend to play better than those who have the bye. Both games between these two in the regular season went down to the wire, and I would expect the same in this matchup. But what we’ve seen from Tennessee lately doesn’t give me any confidence to pick them in a tight game. They did win a close one in Columbia against the Gamecocks, and even won in Memorial against Vandy. But this team is so up and down that you never know what to expect from. On the other side, Florida has been the model of consistency. So I think you know where I’m heading here. Florida 73, Tennessee 68.

W2 – Mississippi State vs. E3 – Vanderbilt

Ugh. This one is tough. On one hand, I honestly believe Vandy is the better team. They’ve beat the Bulldogs already this season and sort of smacked them in the mouth in a comeback win in Starkville. But on the other hand, Mississippi State always seems to find a way to advance in this tournament. Therefore, I’ve just got a bad feeling about this one. Dee Bost has been known to make some big plays when the Bulldogs need it, and unfortunately, I think that’ll be the case in this particular situation. I hope I’m wrong though. Mississippi State 77, Vanderbilt 74.


E2 – Kentucky vs. E4 – Georgia

The matchup with Kentucky is probably better for Georgia than a matchup with Florida would have been. There’s no doubt that this one will be a physical, grind-it-out type of game, and that may favor the Bulldogs. But like I said earlier, Kentucky steps up their play in the SEC tournament, and I just think Georgia will run out of gas. Kentucky heads back to the finals. Kentucky 70, Georgia 62.

E1 – Florida vs. W2 – Mississippi State

A rematch of last season’s quarterfinal game that saw the Bulldogs knock off the Gators in Nashville. New year, basically the same team for Florida, however, and I’m not sure that bodes well for Mississippi State. Keep in mind that the Bulldogs did win the regular season meeting in Starkville, but Chandler Parsons and company will be ready this time around, and will be heading for a meeting with Kentucky in the SEC Tournament final. Florida 78, Mississippi State 68.


E1 – Florida vs. E2 – Kentucky

This just seems like the most probable meeting in the final. They’re the two best teams in the conference, and both have shown just how good they can be this season. I wouldn’t want to play either of these teams in the Big Dance, that’s for sure. This will be the rubber match as each team won on their home court during the regular season. I like Florida’s inside presence more than Kentucky’s, but I also think that Knight and Terrence Jones are going to be tough for the Gators to contain. You have to go with your gut feeling at this point, and well, you have no idea how hard it is for me to type this as a Vandy fan: Kentucky wins the tournament.

FINAL: Kentucky 68, Florida 62

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Now it’s your turn. What are your predictions for this week’s SEC tournament?

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