SEC Basketball in 2012 March Madness
SEC Post Season Basketball
The Southeastern Conference is known as the best conference in college football. At times the SEC has been a power in college basketball. This was not one of those years.
It was a tough week for SEC men's basketball teams in post season play. The SEC started its rough week in the National Invitation Tournament. Four SEC teams were chosen for the Tournament: Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and LSU.
After two rounds no SEC teams remain in the NIT. Mississippi State lost to Massachusetts in double overtime101-96 in Starkville. Following the loss, head coach Rick Stansbury stepped down.
The Bulldogs rivals did not do any better in the first round. Ole Miss lost to Illinois State 96-93 in Oxford. The LSU Tigers also lost their first round game against Oregon 96-74.
Tennessee was the only SEC team to advance to the second round of the NIT with a 65-51 win over Savannah State. That was as far as the Volunteers would get. They would lose their next game 71-64 to Middle Tennessee State in Knoxville.
Just a guess here, but most SEC fans will probably not be tuning into the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden next week.
While there are no teams left in the NIT, the SEC still does have teams alive in the NCAA Tournament. Of the four teams that were selected, only two made it to the Sweet 16: Florida and Kentucky.
Alabama and Vanderbilt didn't make it past the first weekend. Alabama lost its opening round match up with Creighton 58-57. The Crimson Tide had a shot to win it at the end, but Trevor Releford's three point shot was blocked sealing a Creighton win.
If you thought this was the year that Vanderbilt was going to make some noise in the NCAA's, well shame on you. The Commodores were looking to get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for first time since 2007. They got by Harvard in their first game 79-70, but lost to Wisconsin 60-57.
The Gators and Wildcats represented the SEC well in the NCAA. The Gators defeated Virginia 71-45 and Norfolk State 84-50. The Wildcats beat Western Kentucky 81-66 and Iowa State 87-71.
So what will Florida and Kentucky face as they try to get to the Final Four in New Orleans?
The Gators have a tough road to get to New Orleans. First they have to face Marquette on Thursday. If they win that game, they will face either Michigan State or Louisville in the Elite Eight.
If Florida is going to advance, first they have to hit their three point shot. They only shot 27% from behind the arc in their first two games. That number has to get better. Florida also has to continue to share the ball and not just jack up the first shot that comes their way.
Kentucky's road to the Final Four is not much easier. While CBS lost out on Duke-Kentucky part 3, they did get Kentucky-Indiana part 2 in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats get a chance to avenge their only loss in the regular season, a 73-72 win by the Hoosiers at the buzzer.
If Kentucky beats Indiana, they will play either Xavier or Baylor in the Elite Eight.
For Kentucky move on to New Orleans, they have to improve their defense. The last 3 out of four teams have scored in the 70's against the Wildcats. Teams only reached 70 five times during the regular season. Kentucky also has to keep shooting the ball well. In their first two games the Wildcats shot 55% from the field and 43% from three point line.
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari should be concerned about an emotional let down if the Wildcats beat Indiana. Kentucky will be so focused on beating the Hoosiers, that they could have a letdown in the Elite Eight. That would cause a long summer of misery for Kentucky fans that can see Championship number eight being so close.
Another thing to watch is if both Kentucky and Florida reach the Final Four they would play each other in the national semi-finals. It would be the fourth time these teams would have played each other this season.
What do you think?
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