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SEC Basketball Tournament Preview: The Serious Edition

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I thought Nashville was the roughest but I know I've said the same about them all.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

SEC Tournament time is upon us and this is going to be the year that Auburn finally wins a game.  Low expectations are low but meaningful because the last time Auburn won an SEC Tournament game was 2009.  That year, Auburn was led by the late, great Vot Barber.  We finished second in the SEC West and beat Florida before losing to a great Bruce Pearl coached Tennessee squad.  To put it in perspective, the last time Auburn won an SEC Tournament basketball game on March 13, 2009,  Lady Gaga's Just Dance and Poker Face were in the top 10 most played songs in America.

Auburn is a 1500 to 1 shot to win the conference title.  Kentucky of course is the heavy favorite.  The second favorite, Arkansas is a 9 to 1 shot.

So, how does the tournament look this year? Team Speed Kills has the bracket:

Here's my completed bracket:

Completed Bracket

First Round

Auburn versus Miss State.  Miss State has been Flowers for Algernon in basketball form.  They started terrible, got hot, but haven't beaten a team other than Missouri since February 3.  Auburn is sporadic but has hung tough against good SEC opponents.  With Antoine Mason back, I like our chances.

South Carolina versus Missouri.  South Carolina is improving as of late.  They're .500 since February 17, including a win over tournament bound Georgia.  They should handle Mizzou.

Second Round

Alabama versus Florida.  Florida won a close matchup in Tuscaloosa the only time these teams met.  This game will also be close and could go either way.  I'm picking Florida because I have to pick somebody.

Auburn versus Texas A&M.  Texas A&M beat Auburn twice this year.  While Auburn had chances in the home tilt, neither game was ever seriously in doubt.  Commentators like to say that it's hard to beat a team three times in a season but that's (perhaps unsurprisingly) not the case when one team is markedly better than the other.  Auburn runs out of gas here.

Tennessee versus Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt is really hot coming into the tournament.  Tennessee is cold.  The season series is split with two close games but I see Vandy taking care of business.

South Carolina versus Ole Miss.  Ole Miss won the first matchup against South Carolina 65-49.  I think the margin will be similar but the final will be much higher this time.

Third Round

The third round will be the most entertaining round of the tournament.  Tickets will be punched and bubbles may burst.

Florida versus Kentucky.  Florida has pressed Kentucky better than a team of their quality has a right to but look for Coach Cal to beat Florida for the third time this season.

Texas A&M versus LSU.  This is the most important game of the tournament.  Everything may be on the line for these two squads as they are both firmly on the bubble.  The Aggies have beaten LSU twice and need a third to guarantee a spot in the NCAA tournament.  LSU has several good wins but also lost to Auburn, Missouri, and Miss State.  The winner of this game is almost certainly in the Big Dance.  The loser will have to sweat it out.  I see LSU, the fresher team, finally beating the Aggies and moving on.

Vandy versus Arkansas.  This game has the potential of yielding the biggest upset of the tournament.  Those Dores

But in the end, Arkansas will win the game.  They're just too good.

Last game of the third round, Ole Miss versus Georgia.  Ole Miss has more to prove.  They're on the bubble but should make the Tournament win or lose.  Georgia is a lock.  Georgia beat Ole Miss twice in the regular season.  Georgia closed the season in stronger fashion than Ole Miss.  Georgia will be fresher than Ole Miss.  But for some reason, I think Stefan Moody and the Rebels will win the game.

Semifinals

LSU versus Kentucky.  No one played the Cats closer than LSU this season, who lost by 2 in the Deaf Dome last month.  Well, technically, Texas A&M and Ole Miss took Kentucky to overtime where they lost by more than 2 but let's stick with a narrative here.  LSU has the athleticism to make Kentucky sweat but (spoilers) no one has the athleticism to actually beat Kentucky.

Arkansas versus Ole Miss.  These teams split their regular season matchups.  Arkansas wins a close rubber match on the way to a second chance at Kentucky.

Finals

Finals, Arkansas versus Kentucky.  Arkansas was supposed to be the team that would beat the Cats.  Then this happened:

Look for Kentucky to start fast and never let up as they win the conference title.

Check back tomorrow for the HARD BARNIN' SCHWARZENEGGER PREVIEW EDITION!