The second season starts now, and ‘Bama needs an 8-game winning streak to claim another SEC Championship and — for the first time in program history, to cut down the nets in Indianapolis, as CBS’s montage rolls and Luther Vandross’s One Shining Moment fills our screens.
Why not us?!
First thing’s first — win three in Nashville, and that tournament begins today (sorry, last night’s Sad Wednesday doesn’t count). Four games of varying quality are on the slate today, beginning with the one of the most interest to Tide fans: No. 9 Mississippi State vs. No. 9 Kentucky, with the Tide drawing the winner.
No. 9 MSU vs. No. 8 Kentucky
Time: 11:00 Central, SEC Network
Watchability: A+ — Give the nod to UK on the inside, but State has the better guards. Both have suffered inconsistent stretches this season, but the Wildcats are playing much better down the stretch after the worst beginning to a season in Cal’s UK career. The health and emergence of BJ Boston has made this a more dangerous Kentucky team. This game may be more like rugby than basketball. Let’s see how tight the whistles are going to be this week.
No. 12 Vanderbilt vs. No. 5 Florida
Time: 1:30 Central, SEC Network
Watchability: B+ — This is a remarkably losable game for the up and down Gators. Mike White has a history of tripping on air gainst teams he has no business losing to. Like Arkansas and Kentucky, second-half Vandy has been a much-improved team. They love to run and they love to throw it up from behind the arc. They’ve also picked up the defense of late too. Playing the late game last night is going to hurt the ‘Dores, but if there were any first round upset I’d put my money on, it just might be this one. Vandy has very underrated guards. UF comes in with a 4-game winning streak, after a two-game losing streak, after winning at West Virginia. See what I mean? Streaky streaky team vs. an opponent with scorers that can get hot in a hurry.
No. 10 Georgia vs. No. 7 Mizzou
Time: 5:00 Central, SEC Network
Watchability: D — Absolutely no one wants to watch Georgia basketball, not even Georgia fans. Tom Crean is one of the whinier, more unlikeable characters in a conference that has doubled-down on hoops in the last few years. And that says a whole lot for a conference that features Bruce Pearl and sweaty ass Will Wade. The only reason to watch this is to see if Mizzou continues their slide. The Tigers reached their zenith against the Tide a few weeks ago, and have been in the absolute dumps since then. The SEC will likely still get six teams in the Big Dance, but if the Tigers are not careful, they could seed their spot to the No. 6 team in the conference playing later tonight. Mizzou went from No. 11 in the NET three weeks ago to No. 47, and come into the tournament having lost 4 of their last 5 — including a double-digit pasting to these very Bulldogs just last week.
No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 11 South Carolina
Time: 8:30 Central, SEC Network
Watchability B- — It tells you a lot about the bottom of the SEC that Sakerlina is somehow the 11th seed at 5-11. They don’t just lose, they get the doors blown off them. The Gamecocks have lost 5 of their last 6, all by 15+ points. Somehow in there was an improbable road beatdown over Georgia. But, after losing close back-to-back home games vs. ‘Bama and Ole Miss a month ago, USCe has mostly mailed it in. The Rebels are still alive with the barest of hopes for an NCAA bid. They are 8-8 in Q1/Q2 games. But not long ago, the Rebs were riding high. They had beaten Auburn on the road, Tennessee, Missouri twice, and Kentucky. But sprinkled in there they had some dismal losses — including to woeful Vanderbilt and a 10-point home beating to MSU. Trace the problems back to an offense that has gone in its shell. But, if the Rebels can knock down some shots, then this is a team that could pick up a few quality wins down the stretch and make a case for last four in and steal flagging Missouri’s spot. This is a must-win by every meaning of the word.
Chime in below. Here’s your bracket.