SEC Tournament Storylines

Posted by David Changas on March 8th, 2018

With the play-in round now complete, the SEC Tournament will begins in earnest this afternoon in St. Louis. The story that is dominating the headlines for the event is the return of Missouri freshman star Michael Porter, Jr., who is expected to play against Georgia today. Let’s take a look at a few of the other lingering storylines and make a couple of predictions for this weekend.

Mike White and Florida have gotten hot at the right time and may be the team to beat in St. Louis (

  • Team with the Most to Gain: Alabama. The SEC bubble appears to be generally settled, with one notable exception. Alabama has slumped down the stretch, losing its final five games to go from a relatively safe bet to potentially on the outside looking in. If Avery Johnson’s team cannot get past Texas A&M later today in a rematch of a game the Crimson Tide lost by two over the weekend, they are likely headed to the NIT. On the other hand, a win against the Aggies would give the Tide another shot at a quality win against Auburn in Friday’s quarterfinals. If they turn out to be unable to emerge from this weekend’s tournament with an enhanced resume and end up completely missing the NCAA Tournament, this season will be nothing short of a monumental disappointment.
  • Player to Watch: Michael Porter, Jr. This is an easy call. No one realistically expected the preseason All-American to return after suffering an injury in Missouri’s very first game of the season, but now he is set to enhance a team looking to immediately improve its postseason position. Porter can help a team that has enjoyed a nice turnaround under first-year head coach Cuonzo Martin, finishing 10-8 in SEC play. The more action the young forward can get as Missouri prepares for the Big Dance, the better — returning from a nearly four-month layoff is never easy. The fact that he returns to the Tigers’ lineup with the SEC Tournament being played just down the road in St. Louis makes this story all the more intriguing.

  • The Darkhorse: Kentucky. Perhaps it is a stretch to suggest that the team that has won the last three SEC Tournaments is a dark horse, but the Wildcats were up and down all season on their way to a fourth-place finish that includes an 0-5 record against the top three teams in the league. Notwithstanding last Saturday’s loss at Florida to close out the regular season, Kentucky has rounded into better form recently and is still a dangerous club to face. And as is always the case, there will be more fans from Big Blue Nation in the Scottrade Center this weekend than there will be from any other school, giving the Wildcats a huge ongoing advantage.
  • The Winner: Florida. It may seem unusual to overlook one of the two SEC co-champions, Auburn or Tennessee, in this spot, but it feels like things have fallen into place for the Gators heading into this year’s SEC Tournament. Mike White‘s club finished the season with three straight wins, including home victories over Auburn and Kentucky and a blowout win at Alabama. When they shoot well, they are very good, and their defense has been exceptionally stingy down the stretch. This is a team that has shown flashes of brilliance all season long, and we think they will continue to peak on their way to cutting down the nets on Sunday.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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