SEC Year in Review

by Becky

When college basketball fans think about the season, they think about Kentucky and the difficulties the team had in defending its NCAA tournament championship.

The image of freshman sensation Nerlens Noel grimacing in pain from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, not to mention the difficulties the Wildcats had this year, suggest that not only was Kentucky down but so was the entire Southeastern Conference.

The reality is the SEC had a lot of success during the regular season, more than the average fan might think.

Not counting the conference tournament, five schools finished with 20 victories or more this season. Five teams finished within three games of the top spot, and a familiar face – Billy Donovan – was back on top of the league coaching the Florida Gators to another regular-season championship.

With all of these teams having good seasons, many SEC fans will likely get the chance to follow their teams in the NCAA tournament. While watching the tournament on TV is always a lot of fun, especially if you pair it with a meal at your favorite sports bar, think about what it would be like to see the tournament in person at one of the game sites. The 21st Century Car Insurance Sweepstakes gives people the chance to fulfill that dream in person. Download your bracket here and you too could get your chance to see a game.

Even without seeing the games in person, SEC fans should have plenty to root about this season. Florida has not had this much success since the middle of the last decade, and the Gators owe it to Kenny Boynton and Eric Murphy’s averages of 12.5 and 12.4 points per game, respectively. Florida closed the season on a 3-3 note, including a 61-57 loss to Kentucky on March 9, but the Gators should still be a formidable foe in the NCAA tournament.

Speaking of Kentucky, the Wildcats recovered from an abysmal start to the season and had a solid SEC campaign. Kentucky finished 12-6 in the league to tie Ole Miss and Alabama for second place. Kentucky was 21-10 entering the league tournament following a 3-4 start to the season. Noel’s injury meant Archie Goodwin (14.1 points per game) stepped in and helped the team recover its footing following what could have been a devastating blow.

As for Ole Miss and Alabama, neither team Is really well-known in NCAA tournament circles, but Marshall Henderson (19.7 points per game) has helped Ole Miss to a sixth-best 79.2 scoring average in the nation. This could make the Rebels a dangerous team come tournament time. Ole Miss jumped off to a 14-2 start before cooling off in the second half, but the Rebels are still a team to watch. Alabama’s Trevor Releford is the team’s leading scorer (15.6), but the Crimson Tide aren’t really an impressive team when it comes to scoring. In field-goal percentage Alabama was 195th in the nation, and that’s about the best statistic.

All told, the SEC could get as many as four or five teams into the tournament, but it will depend on how the conference tournament ends up. Florida and Ole Miss should be in, and if Kentucky, Alabama and possibly new SEC member Missouri do well then five schools should be in the Big Dance.

Regardless of how many teams make it, the NCAA tournament is still one of the best times of the year to watch a college basketball game. Grab a chair, turn on the nearest TV and enjoy!

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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