Our final look at the SEC in basketball. Next week, we will be knee deep in the conference tournament at this time. Don’t worry, we have some special stuff planned for the week:
- There doesn’t seem to be much doubt Kentucky has had its trip to Gainesville circled ever since Florida snuck out of Lexington with a win Jan. 20. The game has seeding ramifications, but according to Kentucky’s Quade Green, it’s more than that. “Now we gotta go to Florida and spank them,” he said after Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss on Wednesday. “We’ve got one for them. It’s going to be a war.” This, after Kentucky played in a game that featured five technicals. It’s funny how, no matter how young Kentucky is and no matter how many grad transfers Florida brings in, this is still the SEC’s best rivalry. “Now we gotta tough one. We gotta go to Florida,” said John Calipari after the game. “They’re waiting in the weeds.” No, I think I just saw Chris Chiozza walking on campus in plain sight.
- In a perfect world, you’d have the two best teams squaring off Saturday with a title on the line. Alas, who saw Auburn and Tennessee being the only two teams who could win it on the final day of the regular season? Auburn is coming off the brutal road schedule of going to Florida and Arkansas to face plucky South Carolina at home. Tennessee takes on Georgia at home. Both should win, meaning we have co-champs and two trophy presentations in St. Louis. (The strangest was in Atlanta in 2000 when the commissioner had to present trophies before four games because of a four-way tie). By the way, Auburn was picked ninth and Tennessee 13th by the writers in the preseason.
- While we’re picking on the voters, here was the all-SEC first team back in October:
* Yante Maten, Georgia (lock).
* KeVaughn Allen, Florida (nope).
* Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky (no sir).
* Michael Porter Jr., Missouri (played two minutes).
* Robert Williams, Texas A&M (extremely doubtful).
So who will make it? This would be my five:
* Maten and he might be my player of the year choice.
* Chris Chiozza, Florida.
* Mustapha Heron, Auburn.
* Grant Williams, Tennessee.
* Kevin Knox, Kentucky.
- The one game that was compelling Wednesday night was huge for the conference and huge for Texas A&M. The Aggies rallied to beat Georgia (the clock continues to tick for Mark Fox) and while that wasn’t a Quadrant 1 win but gave them their seventh Q2 win to go with five Q1 wins. Most importantly, it made things easier for the selection committee. A&M has a lofty RPI (22 now), but a loss to Georgia and another Saturday to Alabama and the Aggies would have finished 7-11 in conference play and only one team has ever made the NCAA tournament with that record. So A&M is in and the one team we’re waiting on is Alabama to see if the SEC gets eight.