It's officially conference tournament week all across college basketball and the postseason tournament picture is begging to clear up. In this article, we'll examine where Alabama and others around the SEC stand heading into Nashville.
Kentucky, Texas A&MLocks:
The top two seeds in this year's SEC Tournament are the only teams guaranteed to hear their names called on selection Sunday. The Aggies and Wildcats go to the Music City simply looking to improve their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, most pundits have Kentucky in the 4-5 seed range, while A&M is projected to be in the 4-6 range. I'm not so sure that winning the SEC Tournament this week would improve the seeding of either team all that much. They might be able to get up to a 3 seed but a 2 seed is unlikely at this point.
Probable to Dance: South Carolina, Vanderbilt
South Carolina and Vanderbilt are teams going in opposite directions down the stretch but their destination after this week should be the same barring any bad losses in Nashville. The Gamecocks have been doing just about everything they can to play themselves into the NIT in recent weeks after being a virtual lock for the big dance not long ago. Meanwhile, the 'Dores have come on strong in the last month to go from disappointment of the year in the SEC to a pretty big disappointment that is still destined for the NCAA Tournament. Look for them to be in the 9-10 range on selection Sunday.
On the Bubble: LSU, Florida
If the season ended today both LSU and Florida would find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble, but luckily for them a win or two this week would go a very long way towards getting in the 68 team field. Both teams will have opportunities to pick up quality wins with LSU getting a Thursday bye and then likely facing Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals. Florida would face Texas A&M if they can get past Arkansas on Thursday. If I were a betting man, I'd say one of these teams finds a way to squeak into the NCAA Tournament while the other slips to the NIT.
NIT Bound: Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Georgia
Speaking of the NIT, look for the SEC to be well represented once again in the consolation tournament this year with Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Georgia all looking good to receive an invitation. While everyone of these teams would love to find a way to win this week's SEC Tournament and crash the big dance, all of them will gladly accept the valuable practice time the NIT provides for young teams. Our Crimson Tide project to be in the 1-3 seed range which would provide Retin Obasohan and company at least one more home game this season and an opportunity to reach the 20 win milestone. Getting postseason experience should could pay huge dividends in Avery Johnson's second season.
Gone Fishing: Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Missouri
Finally, we look at the league's cellar dwellers. And wouldn't you know it, three of them just so happen to be Alabama's biggest rivals. What a shame. Auburn, Tennessee, and Mississippi State will not be extending their seasons past this week and unfortunately for Auburn there is no equivalent to the Birmingham Bowl in college basketball to put a somewhat positive spin on their season. In that group of three, the Bulldogs are the only ones with any chance to make some noise in Nashville this week after finishing pretty strong in SEC play. Missouri is ineligible for any postseason play and will not be making an appearance at the SEC Tournament.