SDS Mailbag: Best SEC Tournament long shot, one alum who could help each basketball team and more
Oh boy, things are heating up in this FBI investigation into LSU coach Will Wade. Now, another recording has been released, and this one seems to show Wade describing an offer with Christian Dawkins regarding G Javonte Smart.
The trial isn’t going to start until after the NCAA Tournament is over, but when will the Tigers make their move? If these allegations are accurate and proven in court, then this entire season will be vacated.
If the Tigers beat Vanderbilt on Saturday, they’ll claim at least a share of the SEC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. Will they even get a chance to hang a banner before they have to take it down?
As you ponder that, here are your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Outside of LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky, which team do you think has the best chance of winning the SEC Tournament?
If I were one of those top 3 seeds, I’d be absolutely terrified to see Ole Miss sharing a bracket with me. Guard play is crucial in the postseason, and the Rebels have a trio of solid players in Breein Tyree, Terence Davis and Devontae Shuler.
Tyree is one of the best ball-handlers in the conference, and Davis and Shuler can absolutely carry an offense when they’re hot. Yes, they went 0-3 against LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky this year, but recent losses to the Vols and Wildcats came by a combined 6 points (with the Tennessee game ending in controversial fashion).
If the Rebels get hot, watch out. They’ve proven they can hang with anyone. If they gained confidence from those games, they could pull off a couple of major upsets in Nashville.
With the SEC Tournament tipping off next week, which alum would you choose to give each squad its best chance to cut down the nets in Nashville?
A very interesting question, and I’m going to skew toward more recent players with my answers, because I believe the game has changed a lot in the past 20 years.
Sadly, there’s no way to get all these guys in their prime and back to college, otherwise these would be absolutely killer lineups and would make the SEC Tournament next week even more fun to watch.
Here’s who I’d pick to add to each team’s roster for the next week:
- Alabama: Collin Sexton — Kira Lewis Jr. is an excellent player, but Sexton had that killer instinct that comes in handy in March. He rises to whatever the moment may be, and that’s something this year’s Tide could use.
- Arkansas: Corliss Williamson — The Hogs could use a strong wing player, and Williamson is the best in program history. Throw 19 points and 7.1 rebounds per game onto this Arkansas team and they’re a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament.
- Auburn: Mustapha Heron — Heron is turning in a solid year for St. John’s after transferring. He was the Tigers’ leading scorer last year, though, and Auburn won a share of the regular-season title. They’ve struggled this year with largely the same roster. Ergo, add Heron to the mix and you have a tourney title contender.
- Florida: Al Horford — Kevarrius Hayes is a fine player in the post, but he’s only 6-9 and doesn’t really have a great post game offensively. Horford averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his final year at Florida. Add him to this roster and they’re a title contender in Nashville.
- Georgia: Yante Maten — It’s a shame Maten graduated after last season, because he’d be a great fit with Tom Crean’s Bulldogs. The Dawgs have been competitive in many SEC games, but have only gotten the job done twice. Maten’s experience would have had them seeded a couple of slots higher.
- Kentucky: DeMarcus Cousins — With Reid Travis injured, the Wildcats could use a big bruiser. Boogie could certainly provide that.
- LSU: Shaquille O’Neal — Yes, the Tigers also have Pete Maravich and other stars in their storied history, and they have plenty of big men on this year’s team. Still, college Shaq was insane and would be a welcome addition to any team.
- Mississippi State: Jarvis Varnado — Varnado is Mississippi State’s all-time leading shot blocker, and it’s not even close. Plus, he fits the Bulldogs’ current mold of athleticism and size.
- Missouri: Jontay Porter — Porter is still technically a Mizzou player, so I’m not sure if this is allowed, but he would be perfect for this team. Jeremiah Tilmon needs some help on the inside, as the Tigers have very little post size or depth. Porter checks both boxes.
- Ole Miss: Marshall Henderson — If anything, I want this Rebel squad to play the bad boys a little more, and Henderson was the best at that. Plus, I just really miss his antics.
- South Carolina: Sindarius Thornwell — Thornwell averaged 21.4 points and 7.1 rebounds for a Gamecocks’ squad that made the Final Four two years ago. Frank Martin’s team still has the same grit and toughness, but getting a guy like Thornwell back would make this team, which is already in contention for a top 4 seed in the SEC tourney, a legit title threat.
- Tennessee: Wayne Chism — If there’s one weakness on this team, it’s a lack of a dynamic backup big man. Chism averaged 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game during his career and he’d be a great complement to Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander.
- Texas A&M: Robert Williams — The Aggies made the NCAA Tournament (and even upset North Carolina) last season with Williams and Tyler Davis in the post. Williams is the more athletic player of the two, so I’ll give him the nod here.
- Vanderbilt: Darius Garland — I know I’m stretching the rules a bit with this one, but since he’s already left school, he’s technically a “former Commodore.” This team was solid with him leading the way, but has gone 0-17 in SEC play without him.
Any of those guys would be welcome additions this March, but they’re not coming back. Therefore, it’s probably safe to say one of the top teams — Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU — will cut down the nets in Nashville.
If you could build the perfect MLB starting rotation (using pitchers from 1980-present), who would be in that rotation?
Since I was born in 1990, I’m going to switch that question up a bit and use only pitchers from 1990 until the present day. That still leaves plenty of outstanding options, though it does leave out a guy like Nolan Ryan, who pitched into the ’90s but had his best years before that.
In his email, Chaz mentioned Greg Maddux, and he’s right — Mad Dog has to be in the rotation. Here’s who I’d have in my starting five from my lifetime:
- Greg Maddux
- Randy Johnson
- Pedro Martinez
- Clayton Kershaw
- Roger Clemens
Honorable mentions to guys like Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Max Scherzer (a Mizzou guy!) and others, but it’s hard to leave any of the above guys out of the rotation.
That rotation also has three right-handers and two lefties, so it would keep opposing lineups off-balance — not that those guys need any help making hitters look foolish.
I personally love the Illinois Alma Otter. If it becomes official, what are the best/worst puns that my alma mater/otter will be subjected to?
So, in case you missed it, here’s the new mascot Illinois is considering. No, this isn’t a joke:
— Illini Creative (@IlliniCreative) March 2, 2019
If that isn’t the most non-threatening mascot in all of college sports, I don’t know what is. Even Stanford’s tree has crazy eyes.
Alma Otter’s name itself is already a pun on “Alma Mater,” and that’s literally all the thought that went into the name. Even the creators of the otter didn’t think their idea would be taken this seriously.
I honestly can’t think of any additional puns to make for the otter. I think it’ll take a couple of years for people to get over the fact that it’s a real mascot before the cleverness starts to take place.
All I can think about when I see that otter are the otters from South Park who are so passionate about eating things off their tummies:
Do with that what you will, Illini fans.
Have a question for next week’s SDS Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.