SEC Tournament: Preview, predictions for Semifinal Saturday
Quarterfinal Friday gives way to Semifinal Saturday or, as the NCAA Tournament selection committee seems to view it, the final day of the SEC Tournament (yes, that was a seeding joke). We’ll be with you every step of the way until Sunday, but the legion of title contenders grows leaner, so we can miss fewer predictions.
With that in mind, here’s an early peak at Semifinal Saturday:
No. 1 seed Alabama vs. No. 4 Missouri
Everybody wanted to see Alabama — well, everybody except Mississippi State, whose NCAA Tournament spot might be a little less secure than it would prefer after a 23-point beatdown in the quarterfinals. Off the court, the Brandon Miller situation may be a distraction, but on it the super frosh was smooth as butter, with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in his SEC Tournament debut on Friday. Alabama made 13 3-point shots … and held Mississippi State to 1-for-13 shooting. This is a good place to point out that if they do either of those things again, they’ll be fine against Missouri or Texas A&M or possibly the Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile, Missouri had a ho-hum 1st half and then forced Tennessee to play its game in a big 2nd-half performance that led to a 79-71 victory. The 1st time Alabama and Missouri played, Kobe Brown missed the game and Mizzou shot 3 for 28 from 3-point range. Now, the good news is that Brown will play Saturday and that the Tigers are really, really unlikely to shoot 3 for 28 again from long range. That said, Alabama is 1 of the few teams in the SEC that isn’t afraid of playing at the pace the Tigers like or of getting into a 3-point shooting contest.
The key to this game is the 3-point line. The Tigers probably need to go plus-4 or plus-5 in terms of trey production to have a chance in this one. Given how well Alabama has played, that’s tough to predict.
Bama by 12. The Tigers will make an early 2nd-half run but will run out of gas before they can claim the lead.
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt
The Aggies did not look good early on Friday, trailing Arkansas by 13 points at halftime and generally looking pretty disinterested. But a 42-23 second half led A&M into Saturday’s semifinals. The key to the rally? A 43-26 overall rebounding edge over Arkansas and getting big second-half performances from Wade Taylor (16 of his 18 points) and Henry Coleman (12 of his 16 points). The Aggies also held Arkansas to 30% shooting and didn’t give up a 3-point basket in the 2nd half. A&M doesn’t do pretty, and the Aggies don’t do high scoring, but they didn’t make the semifinals without being pretty darn solid at the things they do best.
On the other hand, take Vanderbilt. Or don’t take them. Because the can’t-get-right crew who lost to Grambling State back in December has definitely gotten right. Even without its best player, post standout Liam Robbins, Vandy just keeps winning. Now 20-13, the Commodores are 10-1 since the end of January. They have perhaps played their way into the NCAA Tournament field, beating Kentucky on Friday for the 2nd time in 10 days, 80-73. Vandy nailed 10 treys in the victory, shot 90% at the foul line and generally did not beat itself.
Texas A&M was lucky to pull out a victory over Arkansas in the 2nd half. With Vandy still in uncertain NCAA Tournament position, the Commodores won’t put together a 23-point half like the Hogs did. Can the hometown kids make it 3 wins in 3 days? A&M will need to make more than 1 3-point shot, as it did against Arkansas. The Commodores will hoist the longball early and often. But for the 2nd day in a row, A&M will make a late rally. Vandy leads by 8 at halftime but fades away, and Taylor engineers a 3-point win to get the Aggies into the final.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register
Hey Atlas how does that crow taste. Your Kentucky team full of NBA players chokes AGAIN. Beat twice by Vandy. Next time you troll a team for choking you should make sure your team doesn’t choke first. Let that sink in you pathetic little troll.
Vandy’s problem is their NET. They are pretty far down and it makes for a convenient excuse to leave them out. I don’t trust that metric as it has Tennessee at 3 and Missouri at 48. Missouri has a better overall record and has beaten UT twice. SOS does favor UT 9 vs 45, but head to head ought to mean something. As far as Vandy goes, I think they deserve to be in based on what they’ve done the past dozen games or so. Do they end up replacing MSU?
I think the NET can be useful in evaluating teams with similar records from different conferences, but an over-reliance on metrics clouds something completely transparent with a quick look at the SEC results. Vandy beat State head-to-head, finished three games ahead of them in SEC-play, had a tougher SEC-slate playing Kentucky twice instead of Missouri and Florida twice instead of Ole Miss. And Vandy made it further in the SEC Tournament. The conference slate isn’t close. State has no legitimate argument to be in over Vanderbilt. I don’t care what happened in December. Further, Rutgers got in over TAMU (42 NET) and other bubble teams last year. Rutgers basically had the exact same NET as Vanderbilt.
First off, I think Vandy should be in and a win today would hopefully seal the deal.
State should also be in the NCAAT as they have really good non-con wins over TCU and Marquette and not many, if any bad losses. Vandy has some really really bad losses that are holding them back. Grambling, Southern Miss, LSU, Bama by 57.
Wouldn’t say Southern Miss is much worse than Drake. It was also the second game of the season. State lost by 34 @ Tennessee. Road losses in conference play happen all the time. Arkansas lost to LSU, doesn’t matter at all, and they’re still living off their OOC results. Again, the resume does have a few bad losses I’m not saying State should be out, moreso that if State is in, we should be in ahead of them given the easiest of comparisons: head-to-head and conference record. Conference record should be one of THE most important factors in getting an at-large. In-conference games are big-boy basketball.
I’m just sticking up for State here. Your points are valid, but there are a lot of other teams’ resumes that Vandy is superior to.
NET isn’t all they look at either. Other metrics like KPI, KenPom, Sagarin, BPI, SOR, etc. are factored in.
Each year that goes by the metrics get more and more whack. NET in particular is mindboggling, and has got to the point of being less useful than it is useful. It needs to be seriously revamped and get with the program or just go bye bye.
these bracketologists, calculations tied to NET, etc are garbage. A&M should be no less than a 4-seed. open your eyes and see what they’ve done. 18/21. stop penalizing them for what happened in nov.
At SEC pre-season, Gates said my goal is to have this team ready to play in April… Beat TN twice, on their court and an almost their court (based on crowd noise). Mad because NCAA steal leader not on SEC defensive team, coach not even in the voting for best in SEC; extended Gates contract; this game with two best players on the court versus on the bench. Do I think they beat Alabama, maybe not, but not sure I would want to wager against this team with chips on their shoulders.
I didn’t see an article about Vandy beating Kentucky last night but there are articles about every other game. The bias from SDS south is real. Vandy owns Kentucky in football and basketball this year and can’t get any publicity. Keep doubting SDS. Vandy beat Pitt, UT, UK twice, Auburn, Arkansas and Miss State. All those teams will make the tournament. Committee will won’t put the hottest team in the country this year like they did last with Texas AM.
Nevermind. I found the article but it’s all about UK. Pathetic.
It is more the culture of Vanderbilt that is so disturbing. The University openly brags about their transgender surgery department along with their diversity and inclusion track record.
How dare they support diversity and inclusion! Get out from under your rock, it’s a beautiful world out there.
@EightTitles I don’t agree with the politics or decision of Vanderbilt 99% of the time. Just the sports don’t get the respect. With a student population of under 10k, it’s impressive what Vandy has accomplished so far in athletics.
I support a meritocracy, however that happens to fall.
Maybe Mizzou should let criminals play