As we sit here today, Florida’s basketball team is in position to avoid the first day of the SEC Tournament for the first time since the 2007 tourney (which Florida won in dominating fashion). It’s early, I know, and I’m not trying to jinx the Gators, who are currently in first place in the SEC East.
Instead, I thought I’d look back at the teams that received byes for the last six years in the tournament. The reason I chose the last six years is because of this amazing NFL statistic. In the last six years, the teams that received first-round byes and missed Wild Card Weekend in the NFL have gone 12-12 in the second round. Kind of makes you wonder what all the hoopla is about in the last weeks of the season teams are securing home-field advantage.
Of course, basketball is a different sport and there is no home-court advantage in the SEC Tournament (unless you are Kentucky, which turns every SEC Tournament into a series of home games).
The byes matter in the tournament. In the last six years, the teams that received byes have gone 18-6. There has been a loser among the teams with byes in each of the last five years and the bye teams split in 2006.
Here are the six teams that didn’t take advantage of the byes (along with their regular-season SEC records and the records of their second-round opponents):
2010: Ole Miss (9-7) lost to Tennessee (11-5), 76-65.
2009: South Carolina (10-6) lost to Mississippi State (9-7), 82-68.
2008: Kentucky (12-4) lost to Georgia (4-12), 60-56 (OT).
2007: Vanderbilt (10-6) lost to Arkansas (7-9), 72-71.
2006: Tennessee (12-4) lost to South Carolina (6-10), 79-71; Alabama (10-6), lost to Kentucky (9-7), 68-61.
In 2005, the bye teams all won their second-round games by an average score of 19.5 points. It was not a good year to be playing on Thursday in the tourney.
If the season ended today (I write this before Tennessee-Auburn Thursday night), the byes would go to — Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. The first-round games would be as follows:
Kentucky vs. Auburn
South Carolina vs. LSU
Georgia vs. Mississippi
Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State
Might be a good day to sleep in. But that Friday’s second-round games — even with the SEC being down — should be a lot of fun. Still a lot of ball to be played.