Busting Brackets

March Madness Bracketology 2024: What’s at stake in the SEC Tournament?

The Tennessee Volunteers are the No. 1 seed in the SEC after claiming the regular season title, but can the Vols get onto the one-line in the NCAA Tournament? Will Kentucky knock off Tennessee again? Can Texas A&M and Mississippi State get off the bubble?

Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3)
Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC is a year away from expansion which will mean it’s not only the dominant force on the football field, but on the hardwood as well. However, the league decided not to wait for the arrival of Texas and Oklahoma. 

The SEC Tournament is getting underway with the first round on Wednesday, beginning with 13th-seeded Vanderbilt against 12th-seeded Arkansas at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Tennessee is the No. 1 seed after grabbing the outright regular season title, but Kentucky knocked the Vols off in the regular season finale in Knoxville 85-81. 

This conference tournament should be one of the most competitive and compelling in the country, hopefully leading to the rubber match between the Volunteers and Wildcats in Nashville. Besides crowning a champion and awarding the league’s automatic bid to the big dance, the SEC Tournament will be an opportunity for the SEC bubble teams to secure an at-large bid. In ESPN’s latest Bracketology, the SEC has seven teams in the NCAA Tournament with an eighth stuck as the first team out. 

SEC Bracketology:

Bubble teams: Mississippi State, Texas A&M

Locked in: Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida

On the bubble, Mississippi State is the No. 9 seed, matched against eighth-seeded LSU. If the Bulldogs win that matchup, which will be a Quad 2 game, they will be all but locked into the NCAA Tournament. Mississippi State currently is 41st in the Net Rankings with six Quad 1 and 2 wins. 

Texas A&M is heading into the tourney ranked 47th in the Net, which means if there are a few bid stealers throughout Champ Week, the Aggies will end up on the outside looking in. Though Buzz Williams’s team, which made the tournament final in 2023 and won the SEC tournament in 2022, does control its own destiny. The seventh-seeded Aggies will face 10th-seeded Ole Miss (90th in the Net) in the second round. A win there would help, but if A&M can beat Kentucky, who is waiting in the quarterfinals, then they’ll be dancing. 

The intrigue at the top of the conference is mostly with Tennessee. While Kentucky is No. 9 overall, Cal’s team is still too far back to climb onto the one-line, so Rick Barnes’s Vols are the SEC’s best chance of having a No. 1 seed. Tennessee is No. 5 in the AP Poll after their recent loss to Kentucky.

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