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Preview of SEC in the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament

2012 NCAA Sample Bracket With Picks

SEC Teams in the NCAA Tournament

Dennis Berry / @thedennisberry

This year was a down year for the SEC. While the teams at the top of the conference were strong, the rest of the league was weak. That led to only four SEC teams making the NCAA Tournament.

Those teams were the regular season Champions Kentucky Wildcats, SEC Tournament Champions Vanderbilt Commodores, Florida Gators, and Alabama Crimson Tide. Other hopefully teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Tennessee were left to hope for bid in the NIT.

So let's take a look at how what the four SEC teams will be facing.

Kentucky Wildcats - #1 Seed South Region

Kentucky was the best team all season long. Their only losses were to Indiana in December and Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament Finals. For that Kentucky was giving the number one overall seed and gets to stay in South. They will play their first games in Louisville, KY and if they move on will play in Atlanta.

Kentucky has perhaps the second most difficult bracket, but it is also a revenge type bracket. They will open with either Mississippi Valley State (coached by former Wildcat Sean Woods) or Western Kentucky. After that the match potentials are made for television. The third round could hold Connecticut, who beat Kentucky in the Final Four last year. Then Indiana could be waiting for Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and a chance for Kentucky to avenge its only loss in the regular season.

Lastly, a potential for Duke-Kentucky Part 3 twenty years after the two schools played in the greatest game ever played. Kentucky is the favorite to win the title and if they do it going through all these teams, it would be a welcome sight to Kentucky fans. Update: Kentucky is still alive but Duke isn't. So, that rematch won't happen!

Kentuckys Darius Miller
Kentucky's Darius Miller slam dunks in Kentucky Wildcats 57-44 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.

Vanderbilt Commodores - #5 Seed East Region

Vanderbilt was a preseason Top 10 pick by many in the national media. There were picked by many to win the SEC. Well the Commodores did win the SEC Tournament, but it was a long trip to get there.

They started the season with loses to Cleveland State, Xavier, and Indiana State at home. They followed that up with an eight game winning streak. They followed that with a 7-6 record the rest of the SEC. Now the Commodores are playing their best basketball of the year at the right time of the year. This is a switch from previous years where they were struggling going into the NCAA's.

Still getting past the first weekend for the first time since 2007 will not be easy. Not only are the in perhaps the toughest region, but they open with Ivy League champions Harvard and then could face one of the best defensive teams in the nation in Wisconsin. The Sweet 16 is probably this teams ceiling. If they get there they could face East Number 1 seed Syracuse.

Florida Gators - #7 Seed West Region

The Florida Gators are in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row. Last year they made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Butler.

This year started with the Gators showing promise as they played well against Ohio State and Syracuse on the road. Then came the struggles of the SEC. They Gators opened with a loss to Tennessee and then went 3-5 to finish the regular season, including three straight losses to close.

The Gators have a tough but winnable opening game against Virginia, but then would face up against perhaps the best number two seed in Missouri. This would be a great match up with two teams that love to run and strength is guard play. It is tough to see Florida getting past Missouri to make the Sweet 16.

Ole Miss Zach Graham
Ole Miss' Zach Graham in South Carolina Gamecocks 66-55 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels in the First Round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Alabama Crimson Tide - #9 Seed Midwest Region

After an up and down year Alabama is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Tide started 11-3 before they struggled with the early part of their SEC schedule. After dealing with player suspensions, they went 7-3 to close out the regular season.

The Crimson Tide will face Creighton in their opening round game. The Blue Jays are lead by NCAA All-American candidate Doug McDermott. This will be strength versus strength matchup with the offense of Creighton going against the defense of Alabama. But if Alabama is going to move on, they are going to have to find more offense.

Even if the Alabama moves on the Round of 32, a match up against Midwest number 1 seed North Carolina will be their final game.

Overall Kentucky gives the SEC its best chance to win the NCAA Championship.

Read more about March madness

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