Three days ago, I asked the question: Could the SEC become the first conference to put 3 teams in the Final Four since 1985?

After all, Arkansas took down No. 1 seed Kansas in the Round of 32, Tennessee exorcised its March demons by beating red-hot Duke and was sitting with a favorable path to its first Final Four while top-seed Alabama was left in a region without anything better than a 5-seed to reach Houston.

Three days later, I regret everything.

Three SEC games, 3 losses.

One premature question, 1 ever-familiar reminder that the SEC still hasn’t figured out this whole “March” thing.

Sound harsh? Well, consider this: The SEC just earned its first 1-seed since 2015. Unlike that 1-seed (2015 Kentucky), Alabama couldn’t reach the Final Four.

The SEC has yet to produce a Final Four team in the 2020s. Bad? Yeah, but that’s not the worst of it.

The SEC hasn’t had a team in the national championship since 2014.

That’s right. Even if that streak ends next year, it’ll be a decade in between title game appearances. That’s not coming to an end in 2023, despite the fact that Alabama rolled to the Sweet 16 as the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, and it led by 9 points at the under-12 timeout against San Diego State, which had never been to the Elite 8.

Check that. The entire Mountain West had never been to the Elite 8.

That is, until the Aztecs forced the Tide into a collapse that’ll be talked about for decades. It made Tennessee’s collapse against FAU an afterthought because it came in a Sweet 16 in which both remaining 1-seeds, Alabama and Houston, were sent packing, which marked the first Elite 8 without a 1-seed.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly compared it to the 2007 football season, wherein top-5 teams lost to unranked teams a record 13 times in the regular season and the No. 2 team lost in 7 of the final 9 weeks of the season. It’s not a bad comp. That year, the SEC was the benefactor of said craziness because a 2-loss LSU team somehow squeezed into the BCS National Championship and thumped Ohio State.

This NCAA Tournament, the SEC was at the heart of the madness. If it was a one-off, you could brush it off as “March gonna March.”

This isn’t just a rough 2- or 3-year stretch. For all the talk about the Big Ten failing to produce a national champion since 2000 Michigan State, we can’t ignore the SEC’s title game drought.

And yes, Auburn fans. I still hear you. Perhaps a properly called double-dribble against Virginia changes that drought.

But the SEC came into this NCAA Tournament bragging that it had more teams in the men’s and women’s tournaments than any other conference. Shoot, it bragged about having the most teams in the Round of 32 (6) and it tied with the Big East for having the most teams in the Sweet 16 (3).

There was no bragging on Thursday or Friday night, though.

Sorry, SEC fans. You don’t get to claim Texas yet.

Besides, the Longhorns actually just earned their first Sweet 16 berth in 15 years. They’re not exactly a blue-blood that will instantly help the SEC’s basketball brand. Even if the SEC continues to be a 6-to-8 bid league, sooner or later, one would think the lack of March success will be a topic of discussion during Selection Sunday. Then again, the Big Ten doesn’t seem impacted by that.

Speaking of conferences that didn’t make it past the Sweet 16 … clearly a lack of March success didn’t hurt the Big Ten’s ability to negotiate a media contract. There’s no way to know if that $7 billion media contract would’ve been even higher if the Big Ten basketball was in the midst of an SEC football-like run with the last 4 national titles. Can’t imagine it would’ve hurt.

What’s undeniable is that for whatever reason, late-March flexing continues to be nonexistent in the SEC. Even in a year in which it appeared to set up for some sort of Final Four representation, it didn’t happen.

Can anything change that? Would putting the conference tournament a day earlier in the week suddenly change the SEC’s March fortunes? That might be a reach. Would playing more conference games set the SEC up better? Eh, the Big Ten went to a 20-game conference schedule 4 years ago and so far, all that yielded was a lone Final Four appearance in 2019. In this era of TV rights contracts, you can’t exactly go in the opposite direction with fewer conference games, either.

There is no quick fix for the SEC’s basketball woes in March. If there were, Lord knows Greg Sankey would’ve already pushed that button.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario that was set up much better for the SEC. Since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985, this was the 8th instance in which it entered the Sweet 16 with representation in 3 different regions. In other words, this was the 8th time in which it was possible for the SEC to have 3 teams in the Final Four heading into the second weekend. In 5 of those instances, the SEC produced a Final Four team and in those 2 other non-Final Four years for the SEC, it at least sent 1 team to the Elite Eight. This was the first instance in which the SEC, with representation in 3 different regions heading into the Sweet 16, failed to produce a single Elite Eight team.

Bad? Bad.

There’s a new question that’s worth asking on the heels of another March cut short for the SEC.

Who will end the madness?