The SEC Tournament begins Wednesday evening with No. 12 Tennessee taking on No. 13 Auburn. With the conference postseason upon us, I figure now would be a good time to share my tournament bracket.
Some notes: I have Georgia winning two games and facing Kentucky in the semifinals. I also have Vanderbilt making a run in its home city of Nashville, Tennessee due to its two multiple 7-footers (Damian Jones, Luke Kornet) and guard play from Wade Baldwin IV.
Here's my bracket below, followed by explanations for each game picked:
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WHY AUBURN UPSETS TENNESSEE
The Volunteers just aren't the same team without Kevin Punter and won't be able to put up the offensive production it would otherwise. Auburn gets a scrappy victory, which should be its only one of the tournament.
I really think the Florida-Arkansas game could go either way. Florida's limped into the tournament and Arkansas is a talented, but inconsistent group. Dorian Finney-Smith proves to be the difference, however, and has a big game in a close win.
Vanderbilt's size advantage on Auburn will be tough for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers to handle. Both Jones and Kornet have big games in what should amount to a blowout win.
MOODY TOO MUCH
Mississippi guard Stefan Moody should prove too much for Alabama to handle. Moody is one of the most electric players in the league and is almost impossible to slow down. He figures to have a big game against the Crimson Tide to advance the Rebels to the quarterfinals.
CLOSER THAN YOU'D THINK
I think Georgia beats Mississippi State but I don't think it will be in blowout fashion. Mississippi State has played better toward the end of the season, winning four of its last six games. Georgia is beginning to get hot, however, and Derek Ogbeide's inside presence proves to be the difference.
Texas A&M is too balanced of a team for Florida to take on in the quarterfinals, and the Aggies should cruise to a victory. Expect a big first game from Jalen Jones and an inspired defensive performance from Alex Caruso.
TALENT VS. EXPERIENCE
LSU's Ben Simmons is the best player in the nation. But he needs help from both his teammates and coaching staff in this one and probably won't get it. Vanderbilt is playing much better basketball and has held three teams -- including Kentucky -- to under 70 points in its past five games. The Commodores get the win and advance to the semis.
Kentucky is too talented at guard, which should make things challenging for Moody. The Ole Miss guard will still score his fair share of points, but the combination of Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe will too much for the Rebels to overcome.
THREE IN A ROW
Georgia knows what it takes to beat South Carolina and gets it done a third time. The Bulldogs will look to limit any 3-point chances from the Gamecocks, due to the fact that was the only reason they hung around in last week's game in Columbia. If Georgia can force Michael Carrera into another poor shooting performance, it should be fine to advance to the semifinals.
FIRST MAJOR UPSET
No. 1 goes down as Vanderbilt gets revenge on Texas A&M for its regular-season finale loss. The Commodores adjust accordingly on defense and get a great game from Baldwin and Matthew Fisher-Davis on the perimeter.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
In the regular season, Georgia lost to Kentucky by 34 points. It won't be nearly that lopsided this time. Behind a better defensive performance and a much more patient effort on offense, the Bulldogs keep the game close with three-to-five minutes remaining. The Wildcats, however, use their talent and athleticism for a late run.
BIG BLUE AGAIN
Although Texas A&M got the No. 1 seed, Kentucky is the deepest, most talented and best team in the SEC. The Wildcats exact revenge on Vanderbilt for its regular-season loss with a double-digit victory. Skal Labissiere is finally emerging into an offensive threat, giving Kentucky the makings of a dangerous team at this time of the year.