Those who think that tournaments are an inherently poor way to determine a champion (and count me among them), have found plenty of ammunition to fuel that disdain from the 2023 SEC Basketball Tournament.
Yesterday, we noted that results had been heavily chalk-favored, with 7 of 8 higher seeds advancing, the lower echelon of the conference barely providing any resistance, and the one “upset” was not even an upset if Vegas and advanced stats were to be believed.
This is officially no longer a trend. At least as far as the first three rounds are concerned, there seems to have been little reason to have this tourney — three of the double-byes, 1-2 and 4, advanced to the semifinals. And No. 6? Vandy? They’ve swept Kentucky this season and have won 9 of 11, with 5 Q1 wins in that span. That’s not really an upset either, analytically anyway.
The No. 1 Crimson Tide dominated the No. 8 Mississippi State Bulldogs...well, at least the starters did. The bench got plenty of work, as Nate Oats was limiting starters for a tough run of potentially eight games. Yet, they contributed little aside from rest for the Tide core. The perimeter shot made its appearance again, Alabama got off to a hot start, the Tide defense was dominant, Alabama was much smarter with the basketball, and the fellas’ hit the glass hard against a team that likes to goon it up. This was exactly what the doctor ordered for a group that had struggled with many of those things their last 4-5 games.
No. 5 Tennessee came into their game against the No. 4 Mizzou Tigers with several unanswered questions that had reared their ugly heads since Zeigler went down: Could the Vols get back to limiting turnovers without him? Would a team with a 3:1 asst:TO ratio in conference play be able to distribute effectively? Could the conference’s once-best defense slow down opposing backcourts without his ferocious on-ball pressure? Could the offense string together enough points if the defense faltered? The answer to all of those questions, as it happens, was no. The Tigers did not have a great day from the perimeter, but their superior athleticism, limited turnovers, and taking advantage of UT miscues got it done on a day when both teams shot fairly well on 2PA. Next up: ‘Bama, in what could be a track meet between two of the SEC’s three fastest teams.
No. 10 Arkansas completely fell apart vs. No. 2 Texas A&M. The Hogs had harassed Aggie into a lot of mistakes, were fast, were physical, were playing good defense, and then limiting their own usual mistakes — we did refer to it today as preventing Big, Dumb Arkansas Basketball, a team that had problems stringing together 40 minutes of play. Welp, they did it again. Arkansas was up 38-25 at the break. BUT, in the second-half A&M outmuscled them, outworked them, played smarter, took advantage of Arkansas’s usual bevy of mistakes, and as a result were able to shoot a bit better. Musselman’s teams are just really, really dumb. The Hogs went from up to 13 to trailing in just under 12 minutes of game time, and then never took another lead. Woof.
No. 3 Kentucky had lost to No. 6 Vanderbilt on their home floor just about a week ago. What would the ‘Dores do for an encore? I originally had a great big writeup for this one.
But, instead, we’ll just let a picture tell a 1000 words.
Tiptoed at halfcourt and BURIED IT at the shot clock buzzer pic.twitter.com/pp3oNNjGHC— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) March 11, 2023
Commodores advance, and pick up their 5th Q1 win in three weeks...which is as many as Houston has all season.
Here is your updated bracket and schedule:
Saturday, March 11
- Game 11: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Missouri, noon central (ESPN)
- Game 12: No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Texas A&M, 2 p.m. central (ESPN)
TL; DR PREVIEW
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mizzou. This was probably the best matchup for Alabama, coming off a string of five physical games in their last six, and potentially facing another one from the Aggie half of the bracket. Two of the three fastest teams in the league with high-volume tempo approach. Alabama got the CoMo monkey off their back this season, thoroughly dominating the Tigers at Mizzou. There’s reason for confidence, but the defense is going to have to show up: Mizzou’s offense will.
Parker will have your big preview tomorrow morning
Who ya’ got?
This poll is closed
‘Bama reprises its win over Missouri, though perhaps by not as much,
This is a different Mizzou team. They’re primed for an upset.
Too close to call
No. 6 Vanderbilt vs. No. 2 Texas A&M. Once again, the ‘Dores will likely cede the inside, jack it up from the perimeter, keep out of foul trouble, and dare Aggie to beat them trading two for three. It paid off big-time vs. the Wildcats, and was instrumental in defeating the LSU Tigers. Can Vandy keep up its improbable march to the NCAA Tourney? These teams have made a living off of minimizing mistakes. And Aggie figures to dominate the post. They’ll need some outside shots to fall, however...and that’s this team’s biggest weakness.
Who ya’ got?
This poll is closed
Whatever deal Jerry Stackhouse made at the Crossroads continues to pan out. Vandy wins another.
Aggie will smother the Vandy guards, and dominate the interior in what should be a boring, business-like A&M win.
Too close to call