Gamecocks, Tigers, and Gators, Oh My! SEC Tournament Preview

It’s time for the SEC tournament.  For some teams, this is a tune up for the NCAA, for others, its a last chance effort to get a bid to even go to the tournament.  This is where dreams are made, or where you are sent packing with the smell of defeat following you.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look.

First off are the bubble teams, mainly Kentucky and Tennessee.  After a building year, many were skeptical if the Cats would even make it to the NCAA, and that future is still up in the air.  Kentucky is without big man Nerlens Noel, which means other freshman are going to have to step up.

With the win over Florida last week, the Wildcats might be able to get a bid, but if not, they are going to have to win at least one game this weekend if they dont wanna be NIT bound.

Moving over to Tennessee, the player to watch out for is Jordan McRae.  He isn’t in the running for the SEC player of the year for nothing.  McRae finished fourth in the SEC in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game.  He is the reason that Tennessee was so successful in the back end of the season.  The Vols have won eight of their last nine games, which puts them on an upward streak.

The game to watch for will be against Alabama.  Tennessee must win against Alabama.  The winner of that game will be headed to the NCAA, while the loser will be senting packing to the tune of NIT.

Changing speed, lets turn and look at the two teams that could win the SEC tournament, Florida and Missouri.  Florida is obviously the best team in the conference, and was a possible NCAA champion contender earlier in the year.  But recent struggles during road games late in the season  has caused doubt to enter many fans’ minds.

Florida has Will Yegute back in the rotation, which will provide a much needed presence on defense, as well as offensive playmaking down the stretch.  The Gators have to win in the clutch, otherwise fans should be worried.  If Florida cannot close out easy games in the SEC tournament, this could foreshadow a short run in the NCAA.

Missouri is the only other team that has a definite lock on the NCAA.  Now, since I go there, I obviously want them to win.  But, there are some key elements that need to come together in order for that to happen.

First, Missouri has to play like it is at home.  If the road team Missouri comes out, the Tigers will be out of this tournament faster then they were in last year’s NCAA.  All of the Tiger’s road losses have been by three points or less, or overtime losses.  Missouri needs to keep its head and not make stupid plays in the final minutes of games.  And by Missouri I mean Phil Pressey.

Arguabley one of the best point guards in the nation, Pressey is the motor of Missouri’s offense.  The biggest thing for Pressey to worry about though, is to not make stupid passes.  He has to keep his head in the final minutes of the game and not be the hero.  Pressey also needs to limit his turnovers and to just play his game.

Second, Laurence Bowers is finally healthy.  The Tigers need to use that to their advantage and utilize his presence under the basket. Bowers scored 24 points in the last home game against Arkansas, and Missouri needs to make him a key part of its offense.

Another elemet to the offensive game for the Tigers is Alex Oriakhi.  Oriakhi has been a rebounding machine for the Tigers lately, and the more that Missouri can pound the ball inside to its big men, the better.

Overall, I don’t think that anyone has as much of a commanding presence as Florida does.  As long as the Gators don’t choke down the stretch, this is Florida’s tournament.

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