Conference Report Card: SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 18th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • It was a good year for the Southeastern Conference. After a weak showing in the NCAA Tournament last year, the SEC was the only conference with multiple teams (Kentucky and Florida) in the Elite Eight. The SEC also got five teams into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. It was a major improvement over the sad slump that was 2009 when the SEC only qualified LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi State at 8, 9, and 13 seeds, respectively.
  • When the season started, I predicted the conference could get five and possibly six teams in the tournament and I still contend that Alabama was snubbed.  But regardless of that, five teams is a good showing and a sign of improvement for a conference that lost a little respect as an elite conference in the past few years.
  • Florida was consistent all year, winning close games by playing calmly even when trailing late, but the biggest turning point for the conference came when Kentucky finally was able to win those same close games.  The Wildcats were sitting at 7-9 in conference play and likely facing a first-round game in the SEC when they won close games against Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee finishing the regular season 10-6 and easily marching through the conference tournament.  Kentucky was the favorite at the Final Four in Houston, but poor shooting likely cost the Wildcats their eighth national championship.  And the debate about John Calipari’s ability to win it all with young teams goes on.
Brandon Knight came up big for John Calipari when he needed the star freshman guard the most.

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ATB: Tennessee’s Wild, Zany, Ridiculous Ride of 2010-11

Posted by rtmsf on January 19th, 2011

The Lede.  There weren’t a multitude of games tonight, but that never stopped us before.  And in fact, there were quite a number of good storylines coming out of a Tuesday night of college basketball.  From the zaniness that is UT basketball to Calipari’s foul mouthed motivational techniques to Jimmer’s bombs to the continuing humiliation of a Clemson visit to Chapel Hill, it’s all here.

Brian Williams Was the Hero On This Night (C. Compton/AJC)

Your Watercooler MomentTennessee’s Season is a Four-Month Comedy Show.  Honestly, if you told us that the next thing Tennessee plans on doing is crushing Connecticut by 40 points in Hartford this weekend followed by Bruce Pearl chaining Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris to a dogsled to get back to Knoxville after the game, we’d probably just shake our heads and figure that you were telling us the truth.  It’s just been that kind of a season for the Vols, and all indications are that it’s only going to continue on the crazy track.  Witness tonight’s game-winning play against Georgia in Athens.  With Bruce Pearl still watching his team from home during his eight-game SEC suspension, UT’s Tobias Harris threw up a wild airball from the corner as regulation time was running out.  Somehow Brian Williams reached over the top of Georgia’s Chris Barnes and, as the refs all swallowed their whistles, wrestled the ball from behind Barnes’ head as they both fell backwards.  Williams then threw the ball toward the rim while pulling Barnes down on top of him, and, of course… it went in.  He later went on to say that he’s “Kobe mixed with a little Dirk,” clearly aware of the fact that Kobe and Dirk both get away with murder down the stretch of close games.  You can watch the sequence below, but with the win tonight, the Vols have safely navigated the more difficult half of the SEC schedule with Pearl suspended — UT will play LSU and Alabama at home with road trips to Ole Miss and Auburn next.  Again, we wouldn’t be shocked if they lost to Auburn and won the other three at this point — it’s been that kind of a season in Knoxville.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Jimmer Pulls Up From the Marriott.  Yeah, his range is ridiculous, as witnessed by this jumper from Al Dillard/JJ Redick-range during the first half of BYU’s win versus TCU this evening.  Fredette only went for 21/5 assts tonight, bringing down his nation-leading scoring average to 25.8 PPG one week after torching rival Utah for 47.  The Cougars moved to 4-0 in the Mountain West, though, with the easy win, but they’d be smart to focus carefully on their road trip to play Colorado State this weekend prior to the massive showdown against SDSU next week.  The CSU game has all the markings of a classic trap game.
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