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2012 SEC Basketball Tournament Preview

Dennis Berry@thedennisberry

We have made it though the Southeastern Conference regular season. Now it is time for the SEC Basketball Tournament. Wonder how it will play out?

Well here is our predications as to how the tournament will go this year.

First Round

(9) Arkansas v (8) LSU - This is without a doubt the best match up in the first round. The Razorbacks and Tigers spilt the regular season match up with both teams winning at home. That should not be surprising as both teams struggled on the road this year.

Both teams depend on young players to lead their team. The match up to watch will be Anthony Hickey and B.J. Young. Both are freshmen point guards who can create havoc on the defensive end.

LSU should move on in this game. While Arkansas is probably the better offensive team, the Tigers play better defense then the Razorbacks.

(12) South Carolina v (5) Alabama - During the regular season South Carolina defeated Alabama in their only meeting of the regular season. That was during the Tide's four game losing streak early in conference play. Since then the Tide have looked much better after Anthony Grant suspended Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green, Andrew Steele, and Trevor Releford. All but Mitchell have returned for Alabama.

This is more than likely Darrin Horn's last stand as the head coach at South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the worst team in the SEC and their record has gotten worse every year since Horn has been in Columbia.

The Tide should be able to lock down the Gamecocks and move on to the next round.

(10) Auburn v (7) Mississippi - This could be a good game to start the night cap Thursday night in New Orleans. The Tigers and Rebels split their regular season meetings this year. Auburn won in double overtime at home, while Mississippi won in Oxford.

These are two similar teams, but Mississippi has the x-factor for this game in Terrence Henry. In the two regular season games he only scored a total of 9 points. Look for Henry, who averaged 16.6 points a game over the final five games to lead the Rebels into the second round.

(11) Georgia v (6) Mississippi State - Honestly, the only thing we know for sure about this game is that the Bulldogs will advance. Will it be the Bulldogs of Georgia or Mississippi State? Georgia won the regular season match up in Athens this year.

Southeastern Conference LSU
Houston Cougars forward Alandise Harris (2) shoots a fade away jumper against LSU Tigers center Justin Hamilton (41) in a NCAA mens basketball game at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, Texas. LSU won 59 to 58.

Mississippi State should move on to the second round. They are too talented a team to not win this game. They have a strong inside game with Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney (if he chooses to play). Dee Bost will have to control the game for Mississippi State, but that is a task that he should be able to handle.

Second Round

(8) LSU v (1) Kentucky - The Kentucky Wildcats went 16-0 in the regular season during conference play. That included a 74-50 win at Baton Rouge against LSU.

While the Tigers have improved over the course of the year, they are still not on Kentucky's level. The Wildcats are one of the most balanced teams in the country and are too talented for Tigers.

The only chance the Tigers have at a win are to catch the Wildcats overlooking the SEC Tournament.Even then Kentucky should still be able to move on.

(6) Mississippi State v (3) Vanderbilt - Final game of Friday night features two more up and down teams. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt were both preseason dark horse picks to win the SEC. Vanderbilt is probably already a NCAA Tournament team, while Mississippi State is not off the bubble.

The Bulldogs won the only match up in the regular season, 78-77 in overtime on the road in Nashville. Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie combined for 45 points to lead Mississippi State the win.

While Vanderbilt comes in playing their best basketball of the season, look for the first upset of the tournament to happen. Mississippi State is fighting for their post season lives and a win against Vanderbilt will probably get them into the NCAA Tournament.


(4) Florida v (1) Kentucky - This will be the third match up in just over a month for Florida and Kentucky. The Wildcats won the first two games in route to their perfect SEC regular season. In both those games Florida did not score more than 60 points.

Kentucky's Anthony Davis
Kentucky's Anthony Davis in Kentucky Wildcats 57-44 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.

If Florida is going to win they have to make threes. In the first game in Lexington, Florida only made 6-27 three point shots. In the second match up in Gainesville, they only made 6-22 three point shots. Florida is at their best when they hit from the outside.

All Kentucky has to do to win is keep doing what they have. They are a match up problem for Florida on defense. In two games they have blocked 15 shots and have shut them down from the outside.

Look for that trend to continue as Kentucky moves on the SEC Finals.

(6) Mississippi State v (2) Tennessee - For the second time this year Mississippi State and Tennessee will face off. The Bulldogs won the regular season match up 62-58 in Starkville. In that game Dee Bost, Arnett Moultrie, and Renardo Sidney each scored 13 points for Mississippi State.

It should be noted that in that game, Jarnell Stokes did not play for Tennessee. He will be a major factor in the post this time around. He can guard either Sidney or Moultrie. He will also bring a scorer threat from the post that was missing in the regular season game.

Mississippi State will need the same production from their top three players as they got in the regular season match up. Sidney may be the key factor for the Bulldogs. If he shows up to play, he along with Moultrie will be too much for Tennessee to handle in the post.

Both teams need this win for their NCAA Tournament resume. Look for Tennessee to move on to the SEC Finals.


(2) Tennessee v (1) Kentucky - This will be the third match up between rivals Tennessee and Kentucky this season. The Wildcats won both games in regular season. They struggled at Knoxville winning 65-62. Tennessee was in control most of the game, before losing the lead in the second half. Kentucky dominated in Rupp Arena for a 69-44 win in team's second game.

So what will it take for Tennessee to win? They are going to have to score. They don't have to score every possession, but they will have to score more than they are use to. The Vols will have to play their best defensive game of the year. Also if they can get Anthony Davis in foul trouble, that will help their chances too.

All Kentucky has to do is play their game. Play tough defense and run their offense like they have been. Kentucky has shown they can score against any defense put in front of them. As long as Kentucky does not go cold from the outside they should be fine.

Kentucky will win the 2012 SEC Tournament. They are the best team in the SEC. Even though they have bigger goals of winning a National Championship, Kentucky does not take a game off and does not look past their next opponent.

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