10 Bold Predictions for the SEC Tournament
Here at the bold prediction department, we’re excited for a fresh start in 2021. Given how up and down college basketball has been across the league and the nation, it’s all feeling like a guess. Which is great, because it’s where we tend to stick, anyway. Here are 10 bold predictions for this week’s SEC Tournament, which tips off Wednesday in Nashville.
1. We won’t get Alabama vs. Arkansas in the final
There’s no real question that the Tide and Hogs are the SEC’s top teams. But one of the almost immutable laws of March Madness is that the matchup you’re looking forward to … well, somebody will get knocked off. Historically, Alabama would be in trouble. The last two No. 1 seeds to play in an SEC Tournament didn’t make it out of Friday. That said, neither Kentucky nor Mississippi State seem likely to topple the Tide this week. Meanwhile, Arkansas’ path looks significantly more daunting. But Alabama is 1-3 this season when playing ranked teams. In any case, one (or both) will stumble.
2. The teams that make or break the SEC bracket are Florida and LSU
Both the Gators and the Tigers have shown moments of talent and accomplishment. But they’ve also been absolutely awful on a given day. This is the Florida team that lost to Kentucky by 18 and lost a home game to South Carolina last month. This is the LSU team that gave up 91 points to Georgia and 105 to Alabama. LSU/Ole Miss is a potential Friday game with massive NCAA ramifications, and Florida would have to knock off Tennessee on Friday to advance. They could win the tourney. They could lose on Friday.
3. Watch for Mizzou
There’s always a (relatively) worse seed that makes a nice SEC run, and the Tigers sitting in the No. 7 spot could take advantage. They won at Arkansas and lost at home in overtime to the Razorbacks, so they’re certainly not going to be intimidated. We like the Tigers to have better than a puncher’s chance to pull the Friday upset, and in fact, that’s the upset we’ve got circled.
4. The Tournament MVP will be a freshman
How’s that for a random thought? But Cameron Thomas will be at the center of LSU’s possible deep run, and Moses Moody will be key to Arkansas holding off Mizzou and potentially LSU. Meanwhile, should Tennessee somehow overtake Alabama, it’s hard to imagine such a thing going down without a huge tournament from Jaden Springer and/or Keon Johnson.
5. No 7th team will play its way into the NCAA Tournament
Sorry, Kentucky. Bad team, bad bracket. Ole Miss is a terrible matchup with LSU (lost to them by 10 and 14 in the regular season). Mizzou and Florida are probably the teams that could tumble out, but assuming they each take care of business on Thursday (and each should do so easily), the SEC’s 6 teams will stay. But there’s no gate crasher at this party.
6. The winner of the 2017 South Carolina Award is …
Tennessee. The award is for Carolina absolutely looking awful at the SEC Tournament, losing by 9 points on Friday to a horrid Alabama team … and then going to the Final Four. UT really has too much talent to not give somebody trouble in March. But it’s not at all hard to imagine UT gagging away its Friday game against Florida, and then making a Sweet 16 run.
7. Mississippi State beats Kentucky on Thursday
Yes, the Wildcats finished the regular season on a high note. But this team lacks the talent or discipline to make a surprise run. The only reason Kentucky didn’t lose to State the first time they played was that UK guard Dontaie Allen was doing his Steph Curry impersonation. He’s glued to the bench now, and with BBN looking ahead to Friday’s matchup with Alabama, don’t be surprised if the ‘Cats have one final indignity left in their season.
8. No head coaches get fired based on this tournament
As a hypothetical point, this outcome would have made sense in football, but in the nuclear arms race of SEC coaching vacancies, it didn’t work out that way. But in SEC hoops, the only coaches who could really be close to the edge (like a Frank Martin at South Carolina) won’t be. A&M and Vandy knew they were rebuilding, and everybody else will ultimately stand by their man.
9. This tournament has no impact on NCAA seeding, and so …
OK, this is the least bold prediction ever. But the NCAA will insist somehow that whatever team emerges actually got its Sunday afternoon win accounted for in the NCAA seeding. But it won’t be true. Why on Earth the SEC continues to allow its Tournament champion to be part of one of the most transparent hose jobs ever by leaving the game on Sunday instead of moving it to Saturday will just be one of those little mysteries we all live to ponder. I mean, the ACC plays its championship game on a Saturday night. But if that prediction isn’t bold, how about …
10. The SEC will move the Tournament up a day for 2022
Seriously, enough is enough. Everybody loves TV money, but if the SEC games conflict with the other power conferences, so be it. The Big 12 is the only conference that really could play its Tournament on Sunday because Kansas is always going to win it, so there’s no bracket headache there. If Alabama wins and doesn’t get the final No. 1, or Arkansas wins but still gets stuck with a No. 4, it’s time to stop the insanity of repeating Sunday title games when the NCAA seeding fallout is obvious.