SEC Morning Five: 03.22.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 22nd, 2012

  1. After Shaka Smart turned down the Illinois job, another coach with VCU ties, current Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, emerged as a candidate for the position. According to The Chicago Tribune, “Athletic director Mike Thomas now will turn to his second-choice options, which include Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, according to sources. Both are considered to have strong interest in the job…Thomas is believed to be pursuing high-profile candidates and African-American head coaches.”
  2. As Florida prepares for its Sweet 16 contest with Marquette, the desired pace of both schools should produce a high-scoring affair. “I think the game will certainly be a fast game,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “With the way we play and I think the way that they play, conditioning probably in both of our practices is a premium.” Florida and Marquette both average close to 76 points a game and rank among the nation’s top 30 scoring teams and among the top 30 most efficient offenses, according to KenPom.com.
  3. Kentucky head coach John Calipari will identify the people who have given $2.5 million to help renovate the locker room complex at Rupp Arena, a university spokesman said Wednesday. “Coach plans to publicly recognize the donors in an appropriate fashion to thank them for their contributions in the near future,” spokesman Jay Blanton said in a statement. The plan shows a new circular locker room, a players’ lounge, a theater-style meeting room, and a new kitchen and dining area, among other upgrades. Funding for the $2.9 million project — $400,000 will be provided by Lexington Center — will be funneled through the Blue Grass Community Foundation, Owen said. Because the Lexington Center Corp. is a not-for-profit organization rather than a charitable entity, it can’t accept direct donations, and donors couldn’t take tax deductions.
  4. Auburn senior forward Kenny Gabriel will participate in the slam dunk portion of the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on March 29 in Tulane’s Fogelman Arena at 8 p.m. on ESPN prior to the Final Four in New Orleans. “It is an honor because I never thought that I would be able to be in a dunk contest for college,” said Gabriel. “I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it. I hope to go down there and win it. I’m starting to work on my repertoire now.”
  5. As South Carolina continues its search for replacing Darrin Horn, one columnist, Ron Morris, from The State, writes that the Gamecocks need to pursue and hire a black coach. He writes, “Perhaps never in college basketball history has the opportunity been better and the number of qualified candidates greater for athletics departments to hire black men’s basketball coaches…USC is a little slow getting to this party. It remains one of four SEC programs — Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are the others — that have not employed a black men’s basketball coach.” By name, Morris mentioned Ohio State assistant Dave Dickerson (an Olar, South Carolina native) and Tennessee State’s John Cooper (assistant on Eddie Fogler’s staff from 1995 to 2001).
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SEC Morning Five: 01.12.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 12th, 2012

  1. ESPNU will debut the latest in the SEC “Storied” documentary series on February 11 with 40 Minutes of Hell. The film goes behind the scenes on former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson‘s success with the Razorbacks in the early 1990s. The “40 minutes of hell” fast paced and pressing style that Richardson employed in the SEC won him the National Championship in 1994. Richardson’s separation from the university was anything but amicable as he slapped Arkansas with a wrongful termination lawsuit. The Razorbacks hired Richardson’s protege, Mike Anderson, as head coach helping to bring the former coach closer to fans, players, and the University of Arkansas. Not to mention, the hire also brought back a style of play that is modeled after Richardson’s championship winning system.
  2. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne has found his role on Vanderbilt’s roster, and he is making his impact felt on the defensive end. Goulbourne has limited the role of several prominent big men in recent games, holding Marquette’s Jae Crowder to 30.8% shooting and Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel (just to name a couple) to just 2 points on 1-7 shooting. “He’s done an unbelievable job about three games in a row where the team’s best player was the four man,” Vanderbilt guard Brad Tinsley said. “He’s really figured out how to take what the coaches tell him and put that out on the court.” With the return of center Festus Ezeli and solid defense from Jeffery Taylor, Goulbourne’s defense is an added plus for a team known more for its offense. The Commodores’ commitment to the defensive end has their defense ranked ahead of their offense in latest Pomeroy efficiency rankings.
  3. Kentucky coach John Calipari has a theory for why his Wildcats haven’t been effective on the road in the last couple of years. He says the SEC is not an easy league to compete in, and declares that the league could have as many as five teams competing in the Sweet Sixteen. “This league, with the top five teams that we have, that are all NCAA Tournament teams, and really,” said Calipari. “I’ll make a prediction, other than us, of those five, I would say four of those, without us, will be Sweet 16 teams. How about that?” It’s not that far-fetched of a prediction. Vanderbilt and Florida have the talent to compete with anybody in the nation, and Alabama and Mississippi State have both proven its legitimacy within the top 25 teams in the country. And of course, Kentucky, which Calipari didn’t put as a Sweet 16 team, will be competing well into March and most likely early April.
  4. Billy Donovan wasn’t happy with Florida’s defense in its loss against Tennessee, but the Gators played with much more intensity in their win Tuesday night over the Georgia Bulldogs. With all eyes on the defensive end, Florida held the Dogs to just 36.4 percent shooting on the night. Donovan was satisfied this time around. “I thought we defended them very, very well,” Donovan said. “We held them to 48 points. I think if you hold any team to 48 points you’ve done a pretty good job defensively.” The Gators, however, continued to neglect Patric Young in the post, as Young attempted just five shots on the night. If Florida can continue to hold opponents to 48 points, the lack of a post game may be a moot point.
  5. Mississippi State’s big man Renardo Sidney didn’t start on Saturday for the Bulldogs because of a coach’s decision. “I wanted to save him some foul trouble,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “He had two fouls early in all those games.” The strategy wasn’t very effective as Sidney still committed three fouls in the first half. The fast paced action perpetuated by Arkansas’ full court pressure limited Sidney’s effectiveness. He scored just six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. His replacement in the starting lineup, Wendell Lewis had similar issues. Lewis was limited to two points in 14 minutes of action.
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SEC Full Court Press: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 9th, 2012

The familiarity amongst teams once conference play begins creates an atmosphere that is truly hard to predict. The SEC experienced some ups and downs as some teams didn’t play as expected while others rose to the occasion. The first week of SEC play was nothing if not unpredictable, and it’s only the beginning of what is to come.

The Week That Was:

  • The Ole Miss Rebels haven’t shot at least 45% from the field and at least 30% from three-point range since a December 17 loss to Southern Miss.
  • Meanwhile, the LSU Tigers, which beat the Rebels 81-55, have won eight of their last nine games.
  • Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is closing in on the single season blocks record for the school. He has 74 so far this season, just 10 away from the all-time best mark of 84 set by Andre Riddick in 1993-94 and Melvin Turpin in 1982-83.
  • Mississippi State allowed Arkansas to shoot 56.5% from the field on Saturday. Previously, the Bulldogs hadn’t allowed an opponent to shoot above 50% all season.
  • The Razorbacks’ Julysses Nobles came up with a huge game on Saturday. The junior guard had 24 points and seven assists in by far his best game of the season.
  • Coming off an 18-point loss to Memphis, the Tennessee defense held Florida to 56 points on 35.7% shooting. Both the point total and the shooting percentage were season lows for the Gators.
  • Billy Donovan won’t want to pack his bags and leave Gainesville again this season. The Gators are 0-4 on the road this year, losing at Ohio State, Syracuse, Rutgers and Tennessee.
  • Was that a Terrence Jones sighting? The Kentucky power forward had his best game in over a month with a 20-point performance on 8-9 shooting against South Carolina.
  • Auburn mustered up 35 points in its game against Vanderbilt. The ‘Dores scored 38 in the first half.
  • After accomplishing Auburn’s first ever triple-double this week, Kenny Gabriel tallied just two points, three rebounds and one block against the Commodores. It might be safe to say that Gabriel won’t secure the Tigers’ second triple-double in history while he’s playing against SEC competition.

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SEC Morning Five: 1.04.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 4th, 2012

 

 

 

  1.  Kentucky fans may compare Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Superman, but he’s not completely immune to injury. Kentucky coach John Calipari says that Kidd-Gilchrist went to the locker room with a chest injury that he sustained during the Louisville game. “I don’t know if it is a pulled muscle or what in his chest area,” Calipari said in his postgame press conference. “It was last game that it happened but we are going to get him checked up and he didn’t feel right at halftime. I told them to give him some medicine to see if they could loosen it up. We will check on him tomorrow, but I think he will be fine.” Kidd-Gilchrist was injured in the Louisville game, but still suited up to play against Arkansas-Little Rock last night. The Superman comparison may not be too off base.
  2. Made free throws were a huge factor in Kentucky’s 69-62 win over Louisville. The Wildcats are not normally known for their accuracy at the charity stripe, but Calipari has made the team run sprints for every missed free throw the Cats shoot in a game. It obviously worked as Kentucky was a solid 32-42 from the line against the Cardinals. Over the last four games, the fear of running has propelled the Cats to shoot 77.2% from the stripe. An Achilles heel for almost every Calipari-coached team has turned into a positive for UK as of late. With Calipari’s critics no longer able to make fun of Kentucky’s free throw shooting, they are frantically writing new jokes as you read this.
  3. LSU lost on Monday night to a Top 25 Virginia team, but the Tigers received good news with the return of senior guard Andre Stringer. Stringer had sat out the previous five games with a head injury sustained in practice three weeks ago. He started the game, but was somewhat limited with 24 minutes of play and just eight points. “It was great to get back,” Stringer said. “I felt great afterward, but obviously it doesn’t feel too good right now.” Stringer admitted to feeling winded, and will work on improving his conditioning before SEC play. Stringer was LSU’s leading scorer before his departure. He is averaging 11.7 points, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
  4. Somewhat quietly, Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli recently broke the school record for career blocks. Ezeli broke former Commodore Will Perdue’s former mark with the 158th block of his career against Miami (Ohio). Last season, Ezeli averaged 2.6 blocks per game, setting the single season record for the Commodores with 87. His defense will have a major impact on Vanderbilt’s ability to rebound, guard the post, and alter shots in the lane. Ezeli could give the ‘Dores some much needed consistency on both ends of the court as he is slowly working his way back into the lineup.
  5. Kenny Gabriel’s career night was mentioned in yesterday’s M5, but his 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots deserves some more love here today. Gabriel accomplished a feat that nobody at Auburn before him has been able to do. “It’s pretty special, a triple-double,” coach Tony Barbee said. “When you consider the type of talent that has come out of this program, the Chuck Persons, the Charles Barkleys, the Wesley Persons, the Mike Mitchells, you can go down the line and this is the first triple-double in Auburn history? It’s special.” And to think, Gabriel almost didn’t play because of stomach issues. His 24 points and 13 rebounds both tied his career highs, and his 10 blocks was a career high by itself. Gabriel is averaging 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game on the season.
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SEC Morning Five: 01.03.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 3rd, 2012

  1. Kenny Gabriel had 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocks for the first triple-double in Auburn history. Gabriel added three assists and four steals in the Tigers’ 67-41 win over Bethune Cookman. Gabriel’s 24 points were a career-high that he achieved on an 11-13 shooting night. The triple-double occurred with seven minutes remaining in the game. Auburn has improved tremendously from last season, but finishes up non-conference play with a big test against Florida State on Wednesday. The match-up with the Seminoles should be a good indicator of how far Tony Barbee’s team has come.
  2. A new SEC Player of the Week was crowned this week, and the honors go to Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist has elevated his play to a whole new level this week. First, he scored a career-high 18 points against Lamar. Then, he topped that by adding 24 points and 19 rebounds against rival Louisville. His 19 records was a new record in the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry series. On the week, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 21 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Anthony Davis was named SEC Freshman of the Week giving Kentucky a sweep of the awards this week. Davis averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds, six blocks, 1.5 steals, and 1 assist. Davis had 18 points and 6 rebounds in the second half of the Louisville game.
  3. Alabama guard Andrew Steele has been medically cleared to rejoin the team and will begin playing as soon as tonight against Georgia Tech. The junior suffered four concussions in his football and basketball career, but feels as though the lingering symptoms have disappeared. “I’m excited to finally get back on the court,” Steele said. “At one point, I thought I might not get the chance again, so to get back out there with my teammates and do something I love to do is one of the best feelings ever.” Steele averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season in limited action. The big question for Crimson Tide fans has to be can Steele hit a three-pointer for Alabama’s struggling perimeter game? Steele was 5-19 (26.3%) last year from beyond the arc.
  4. Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway will not play against Southern Methodist on Tuesday as  he is still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered on December 21. “He’s progressing about as well as we would have hoped,” coach Andy Kennedy said. “It’s been 11 days and our hope is that he continues to improve and we’ll have him when we start SEC play.” Holloway is averaging 9.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. His 9.6 rebounds is good enough for third in the SEC. The Rebels have lost three games in a row and look to break the streak without their leading rebounder in the lineup again.
  5. Kentucky plays its annual game in Louisville on Tuesday night, and no we’re not talking about a game against the Cardinals. Kentucky plays Arkansas-Little Rock in Freedom Hall, but coach John Calipari is not sure how long the Wildcats will continue to play a game outside the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. “People have got to come to it and make it something they want us to do,” Calipari said. “I know this, Little Rock at home, there would be 24,000 people there.” Kentucky had a near sellout in Freedom Hall in 2004-05 against Indiana, but other games have left plenty of seats. You may remember that Kentucky has expressed its desire to shift the annual home-and-home series with Indiana to neutral sites alternating between Indianapolis and Louisville beginning next season.
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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Other Friday Games

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 2nd, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the RTC Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Brian Joyce and Michael Lemaire take on Auburn vs. Seton Hall and Louisville vs. Vanderbilt. 

Vanderbilt v. Louisville

Vanderbilt and Louisville will feature two top 25 teams facing off in the KFC Yum! Center.

Mike: The matchup has all the makings of a classic offense v. defense battle. Even without senior center Festus Ezeli, the Commodores are a prolific scoring team (#23 in adjusted offense) and swingmen John Jenkins (20.2 PPG) and Jeffery Taylor (15.4 PPG) can fill it up in a hurry. Of course they haven’t played a team as talented as Louisville. Even with the injuries to Wayne BlackshearMike MarraStephan Van Treese, and Rakeem Buckles, the Cardinals are still undefeated and the main reason why is they play suffocating defense (#3 in adjusted defense). However, with apologies to Butler, Louisville has played a relatively easy opening slate, and their depth will be tested against Vanderbilt’s talented lineup. Offensively the Cardinals don’t have a go-to scorer per se, but they do have seven players who average at least seven points per game, led by sweet-shooting forward Kyle Kuric (12.5 PPG). They also have a rugged, albeit thin, frontcourt which is led by talented freshman Chase Behanan (9.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG) and center Gorgui Dieng (8.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG) who has been one of the best shotblockers in the country thus far and is a big reason why Louisville is so successful on defense. But as balanced as Rick Pitino’s club is, star guard Peyton Siva is still what makes the team go, and he hasn’t quite found his comfort zone yet, missing two games with an ankle injury. Siva had 11 points, five assists and five steals in the team’s last game, a win over Long Beach State, but he also turned the ball over six times. No matter how good Louisville’s defense might be, Siva and fellow guard Chris Smith cannot be careless with the ball, because Vanderbilt is too efficient on offense to be gifted with so many extra possessions. What do you think, Brian?

Will Rick Pitino employ his full court press against Vanderbilt's struggling guards

Brian: I agree that this should be a great one. I think Vanderbilt will really be tested in this matchup. The Commodores haven’t taken good care of the basketball, and Louisville is a team that uses a full court press and creates lots of turnovers. Brad Tinsley has struggled when pressured, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the Cardinals’ defense. You pointed out Vandy’s efficient offense, but you were nice by not mentioning its struggling defense. The ‘Dores have struggled to cut off opponent’s three-point shot allowing three teams to shoot at least 40 percent from outside the arc so far this year. Louisville loves to shoot the three, so it could be a long night for coach Kevin Stallings if his team lets the Cardinals get hot. It will be interesting to see how Stallings handles the defensive assignment for Siva. Siva is a player who could really hurt Vanderbilt with his penetration. He can score, as you point out, and he can also find open teammates. And one of the teammates he may find in this one is Dieng. Dieng is still developing his offensive skills, but his 6’11” frame could be difficult for Vanderbilt’s post players to defend. 6’9″ Steve Tchiengang and 6’8″ Lance Goulbourne will be down low for Vandy, but they will have to box out better than they did against Xavier when the Musketeers grabbed 25 offensive rebounds.

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SEC Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 28th, 2011

 

 

 

 

  1. The injuries keep coming for the SEC and college basketball. Florida‘s starting forward Erik Murphy has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely according to The Gainesville Sun. Murphy injured his knee in practice on Thursday. “It does appear he has some form of a meniscus tear,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “How severe or how long he will be out, we’d probably find out a lot more on Monday. He’s out for the game (against Stetson) Monday and I’d assume he would be out for the next week as well.” Florida has a big game this week against Syracuse in the Big East/SEC challenge on Friday. The Gators played Ohio State earlier this season in an another top 10 match-up, and Murphy was crucial to Florida’s offense. He scored 14 points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes of play against the Buckeyes. Donovan seems optimistic that Murphy will return soon.
  2. Another SEC team that has been hit hard with injuries is looking to its freshmen to lead the way. BJ Young, Rashad Madden, Hunter Mickelson, and Devonta Abron combined to score 53 points for Arkansas in their win over Grambling State. All four posted career-highs in points, and Mickelson grabbed a career-high eight rebounds as well. “When those guys came off the bench, I thought they took the tempo up a notch for us and really got us into our transition game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “They got the most minutes of any of the guys out there, so to me, that’s a reflection of their play. I thought they were at times pretty impressive.” The development of the Hogs’ four freshmen is key as Arkansas is left with only nine scholarship players this season. All four will get plenty of opportunities moving forward as the Razorbacks’ leading scorer and rebounder, Marshawn Powell, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ligaments in his knee.
  3. Kentucky recorded only four turnovers in an 87-63 win over Portland on Saturday night. The four turnovers are the lowest for the Wildcats since a 1993 NCAA Tournament game against Utah (two turnovers). Much has been made of freshman Marquis Teague‘s ability to lead Kentucky at the point guard position, but he led the way with eight assists and zero turnovers. Teague added 14 points and four steals, and looked increasingly more comfortable in his role. That is a good sign for the Wildcats as they prepare for a big week with a matchup against St. John’s on Thursday and the much anticipated game against North Carolina on Saturday.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari sent out shock waves in Big Blue Nation on Sunday as he asked a (hypothetical?) question to Cats’ fans. Calipari asked via his website CoachCal.com which non-conference team the Kentucky faithful would like to see dropped from the schedule if necessary. The SEC could add two additional conference games to each team’s schedule with the addition of two league members beginning next season. Calipari writes, “If we had to – and this doesn’t mean we have to at this point because we still have 16 league games – but if we had to drop one series and there were no other options, who would it be? Would it be North Carolina, Indiana or Louisville?” For what it’s worth, college basketball is better with these high powered non-conference games, but it’s understandable if that is not in the best interests of Kentucky basketball. Regardless, Kentucky and Louisville is one of the best rivalries in the game, and it has to keep going if for nothing more than the drama of Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.
  5. Auburn set a school record with 17 blocked shots in their win on Friday night against Nicholls State.  Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi led the way with five blocks each. Kenny Gabriel blocked four more. The 17 blocks put Tigers tied for second with Kentucky (17 blocks against Morehead State in 1998) for the all-time single-game SEC list. Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was impressed, but wants to keep seeing improvement. “We still, as a program, have to grow and develop that confidence,” Barbee said. “The only way you do that is by winning. These guys are hungry, but I want them to be better and they know that. We can be better.” The Tigers improved to 3-0 with this win, and face a rebuilding Seton Hall team on Friday. The Tigers have been a solid club defensively, but offensively are still a work in progress. According to KenPom.com, Auburn ranks 170th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Barbee will have to find some scoring to continue to see his team accumulate victories.
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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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SEC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2011

 

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC. With tournament action set to tip from Atlanta on Thursday, get set with RTC’s regular season recap and postseason outlook.

Postseason Preview

Hottest Teams Going Into The Postseason:

  • FloridaPasting Alabama to close out the season is a really good sign.
  • KentuckyLooking good on a lot of people’s brackets after winning two tough ones and they’ve been top 10 at KenPom.com all season.

Tournament Sleeper: Mississippi State – Too much talent here to not be dangerous when push comes to shove.  The question is, will they play the way they’re capable or the way when they’ve fumbled?

Best First Round Matchup: Tennessee vs. Arkansas, Thursday - The South Carolina/Ole Miss game doesn’t carry much weight, and I don’t see Georgia having too much trouble with Auburn, nor Vanderbilt with LSUArkansas is the higher seeded team here due to the wackiness of the Southeastern Conference Tournament seeding (more on that later).  Arkansas won the previous meeting 68-65 in Fayetteville.

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