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UF, UK Are SEC’s Best Bets For A Long Tourney Run

In doing radio shows across the Southeast this week, we at MrSEC.com have been asked time and again which SEC squads are in the best NCAA Tournament shape.  In response, we’ve lumped the league’s five schools into two groups — good bets and bad bets — with very little room in between.

Here’s our take:


Good Bets

Florida — #2 seed in the Southeast

The Gators will open the tourney in Tampa.  First is UC-Santa Barbara and then then winner of UCLA-Michigan State, both of whom have been a bit disappointing this year.  Get to the Sweet Sixteen round and the Gators will likely face BYU (hurt by Brandon Davies’ suspension) or St. John’s under first-year coach Steve Lavin.  In the round of eight, UF would likely face #1 seed Pitt… the least frightening of the tourney’s top seeds.

Look for Florida to reach the Elite Eight, at least.  They were 12-3 against RPI Top 50 clubs this year.  That kind of consistent, solid play against the nation’s best teams makes the Gators a tourney favorite.


Kentucky — #4 seed in the East

If Princeton upset Kentucky it would be a monumental upset.  So push the Cats through to the next round against — probably — Bob Huggins and West Virginia.  WVU bounced UK from last year’s Elite Eight and Huggins has owned his buddy John Calipari, but Kentucky has closed as one of the hottest teams in the country.  We think they’ll reach the Sweet Sixteen where they’ll likely face #1 seed Ohio State.  The Buckeyes lost just two games on the season and played in the #2 conference according to RPI.  They’re tough.

Could UK knock off the Buckeyes?  Sure.  But their lack of depth is a concern.  We saw with a late ankle-turn in the SEC tourney semifinals how much worry can be caused by a sprain or pull of any kind.  Hard to put a lot of money on a team that’s so thin.  But we’ll take the Cats through to the Sweet Sixteen… and we’ll give them a chance to go even farther.


Bad Bets


Vanderbilt — #5 seed in the Southwest

VU opens with #12 Richmond.  Anyone want to put money on the Commodores in a 5-12 game considering their last two tourney appearances were snuffed out by mid-major #13 seeds in the first round?  No thanks.  If Vandy gets by the Spiders, they’ll likely face Louisville in the second round.  The Cardinals went just 9-7 against RPI Top 50 foes this season, so they’re beatable.  Get past Rick Pitino’s bunch and #1 seed Kansas will likely be waiting in the round of sixteen.

Teams that rely on outside shots to fall can get hot and go on deep tourney runs.  Or — as has been the case in VU’s recent stops — they can go cold and get bounced ahead of schedule.  The ‘Dores could make a nice run, but we won’t be putting any money on them.


Tennessee — #9 seed in the West

The Vols draw Michigan in the first round and the Wolverines are a team that relies on three-point shots.  If they’re hot, it could be a short tourney for Bruce Pearl’s disappointing Vols.  If they’re cold, UT could “ugly” their way past the Wolverines.  Tennessee is not an efficient club on offense, relying on transition baskets to help make up for their poor shooting ways.  UM doesn’t figure to give UT an abundance of junk.  But if the Vols win, they’ll find #1 Duke — in Charlotte — in the next round.

If the 2010 UT team from November and December shows up, Tennessee could give Duke a run.  If the 2011 up-and-down Vols show up, a first-round exit is a pick ‘em bet.


Georgia — #10 seed in the East

Up first for the Dawgs is #7 seed and Pac-10 tourney champ Washington.  And the Huskies are a solid team.  But they’ll have to travel 2,800 miles to Charlotte and UGA fans should be able to give their team a crowd advantage.  If Georgia gets past Washington — and we think they will — then they’ll be in a fix similar to Tennessee’s… facing North Carolina in North Carolina.  Not fun.

Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie could cause problems for the Tar Heels, but Georgia went just 3-9 against foes ranked in the Top 50 of the RPI.  Does that sound like a team you should bet on getting past UNC?  We don’t think so.

 


Trackbacks

  1. [...] 15. MrSEC.com flashback: Kentucky and Florida best SEC bets for long tourney run. [...]

  2. [...] semifinals.  The Gators will take on Jimmer Fredette and BYU on Thursday evening.Last week, we presented our “good bets and bad bets” for the tourney and we’re still feeling pretty good about ‘em.  Our “bad [...]



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