Handicapping the SEC tourney

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The SEC Tournament begins Thursday in the Georgia Dome where ” in
theory anyway ” all 12 teams have a chance to win the whole thing and
earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For some, the chances of
hoisting the trophy are better than for others. Eight of the teams
would have to win four games in four days. That hasn’t happened since
Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas team did it in 2000. I’ll never forget
Richardson telling us after an opening-round win that he brought four
suits and he planned to need them all.

Fat chance, we thought.

Here’s a look at the field and the chances each team has of winning it all.

THE FAVORITES
Tennessee:
The Vols won the league title but have been awful in this event,
winning only four games in the last 10 years. Bruce Pearl has yet to
win a game in his first two years. But Tennessee is built for this
tournament with its depth. Still, a team that relies so much on 3-point
shooting could struggle in the spacious Georgia Dome.

Kentucky:
Remember when the Wildcats used to own this tournament? Kentucky’s last
title was in 2004. But these Wildcats have showed great resilience this
season and have a knack for winning close games. Plus, there will be
more UK fans than the rest of the conference’s fans combined.

Mississippi State:
The Bulldogs have had a great conference season and have the
combination of inside and outside players to make a deep run. Don’t be
surprised if they make the final in part because of a soft draw.

SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE
Vanderbilt:
The Commodores have a lousy history in the tournament, and I believe
one reason is because they are so good at home because of their weird
gym that a place like the Georgia Dome throws off their shooting. The
draw is very difficult for Kevin Stallings’ team.

Arkansas:
Having a first-round bye helps but the Razorbacks have been up and down
all season and would probably have to beat Vandy and Tennessee to reach
the final.

LSU: The Tigers have been hot under Butch Pierre and you could see them pulling an upset, but probably not three.

PUNCHER’S CHANCE
Florida:
The three-time defending champions can’t be counted out completely, but
we haven’t seen the Gators put together four straight solid games
this season.

Ole Miss: The Rebels have been dreadful on the road but perhaps they can recapture the magic of the pre-conference season.

Alabama: The Tide have talent. Maybe Alabama can pull it together for one week.

NO CHANCE
Auburn: Too small to make any kind of serious run.

Georgia:
The worst team in the tournament over the last 10 years and this isn’t
a team that has shown it can win against the better teams.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are playing like they just want this to end.