March Madness 2014: SEC Tournament Preview

Mar 8, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin (5), center Patric Young (4), forward Casey Prather (24) and forward Will Yeguete (15) kiss center court after they beat the Kentucky Wildcats.

March Madness is upon us, and although the Southeastern Conference is much more well-known for its prowess on the gridiron, they play a little bit of basketball as well. This year, fourteen teams will gather in the “capital of the south” for a week-long run at an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and the winner will be crowned as 2014 SEC Tournament champions.

The SEC features the current #1 team in the country in the Florida Gators, and Billy Donovan’s team ran rough shot through the competition during the regular season. In fact, Florida ran the table at 18-0 in conference play, becoming one of only a handful of teams in recent memory to accomplish that feat in a high-major conference. The Gators are a prohibitive favorite in the tournament itself, and anything short of a cruising victory would be considered a disappointment.

After Florida, the rest of the SEC is a bit of a mash-up. Kentucky entered the season with crazy expectations before swooning down the stretch and finishing with a 12-6 mark, but at the same time, they were able to hold on to the #2 seed and have multiple 1st-round NBA Draft picks on the roster. The Wildcats aren’t exactly playing their best basketball right now, but they have shown the propensity to play lights-out basketball for 20-minute periods, and that makes them dangerous.

Behind the “big two”, Georgia is the biggest surprise in the league, tying Kentucky with a 12-6 mark and finishing with the #3 seed in the tournament. However, the Bulldogs aren’t on anyone’s bubble radar based on their lack of big-time wins, and they will likely need to run the table to make the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee, as the #4 seed, presents probably the best match-up for Kentucky and Florida in terms of talent, but they have been wildly inconsistent, and that is the reason they are on the bubble.

A deeper look at the rest of the field lends a bunch of teams that are the same. Ole Miss and Missouri were both considered to be NCAA Tourney locks before faltering in different ways, while LSU is a giant that is still asleep, and Arkansas can’t seem to get out of its own way. Still, any of these squads have the talent to make a run to Sunday, and that makes things quite interesting.

Here’s a look at the particulars for the event itself:

Dates: Mar. 12-16
Where: Atlanta, GA
Arena: Georgia Dome
TV Info: ESPN Family of Networks
Live Stream: WatchESPN app
2014 Regular Season Champion: Florida
As if that wasn’t enough information for you, here’s a look at the full bracket in picture form:

In short, this is Florida’s tournament to lose, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be beaten by a small fistful of teams in this league. Kentucky has pure talent that rivals anyone in America, and the 3rd-seeded Georgia Bulldogs could have a default “home” game against the Gators if they are able to outlast Kentucky in the semifinals. Either way, this should be a compelling week of high-level hoops, and we can ask for nothing more. Stay tuned!

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Arkansas Razorbacks Auburn Tigers Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs Kentucky Wildcats LSU Tigers Mississippi Rebels Mississippi State Bulldogs Missouri Tigers South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Volunteers Texas A&M Aggies Vanderbilt Commodores

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