Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2013 SEC women's basketball tournament in earnest after the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 63-36 earlier tonight.
As you've probably realized by now, SB Nation has a pretty good SEC presence at A Sea of Blue and Rocky Top Talk and you should definitely read their previews. But I'm going to synthesize their predictions here to offer a brief overview of the tournament.
(All times Eastern)
Noon: #8 Arkansas vs. #9 Florida
2:30: #5 South Carolina vs. #13 Alabama
6 p.m. #7 Vanderbilt vs. #10 Missouri
8:30 p.m. #6 LSU vs. #11 Auburn
Game to watch: Arkansas vs. Florida
Neither of our SEC friends could decide who will win this one and David Hooper of Rocky Top Talk summarized it well:
Florida won the head-to-head in Gainesville 69-58, thanks to 50% shooting from the field. On a neutral court, and assuming the shooting percentages are a little more equal, this game is really a tossup. The winner moves on to play Tennessee, making this one of double interest to Lady Vols fans.
One thing that might end up deciding this one statistically is the pace of the game: Florida is a rather uptempo team at 75 possessions per 40. In contrast, Arkansas has the second slowest pace in the conference at 71.3. But Arkansas allowing 50% shooting does stand out as something of an aberration - they were the fourth-best defense in the conference allowing .79 points per possession. So Greg's Arkansas prediction makes sense on a neutral court: if Arkansas can slow the pace and defend like they have most of conference play, they could be the ones advancing.
- South Carolina defeats Alabama (GAE & DH)
- Vanderbilt defeats Missouri (DH - GAE called an upset!)
- LSU def. Auburn (DH & GAE)
Schedule (assuming predictions above):
Noon: #1 Tennessee vs. 8/9
2:30 p.m.: #4 Texas A&M vs. 5/13
6 p.m.: #2 Kentucky vs. 7/10
8:30 p.m.: #3 Georgia vs. 6/11
Game to watch: Texas A&M vs. South Carolina
Hooper chimed in on this one as well, though not making a pick.
In their conference game, A&M eked out a 50-48 win on the road, but South Carolina has not really had a bad game since their conference opening loss against Tennessee. They closed the season with a win over Florida and are in good shape entering the tournament. They aren't offensive juggernauts but they play defense as ferociously as any other team in the league. This game may depend on how touchy the refs feel about Kelsey Bone's style of play.
I'm going with Greg's prediction on this one, assuming that Bone just turns it up a notch in a game that has to have a bit of personal meaning. But if there's a team-level statistic to watch, it's probably the teams' respective turnover rates. Both of these teams like to force turnovers and neither is elite in terms of ball control (each turning the ball over about 20% of the time).
- Tennessee def. Arkansas
- Kentucky def. Vanderbilt
- Georgia def. LSU (GAE)
Schedule (assuming predictions above):
4:00 p.m.: Tennessee vs. TAMU
6:00 p.m.: Kentucky vs. Georgia
Game to watch: Tennessee vs. TAMU
Greg pretty much summed this one up:
This is where things begin to tighten up for Tennessee. Again, injuries are the deciding factor. A healthy Tennessee wins this one in a close battle. An unhealthy Tennessee goes down in a close battle. The Vols have defied the odds all year, and I am picking them to do it again here. Tennessee to the finals.
The thing is, when Greg published that yesterday, the report that 6'3" Lady Vols post Isabelle Harrison is doubtful for the SEC tournament had not been out there yet. Tough to say whether they can win that one, but with Kamiko WIlliams also banged up it just seems like it would be tough for the Lady Vols to defy the odds in this one.
- TAMU def. Tennessee
- Kentucky def. Georgia
We'll leave it there for now and get to a championship game preview when the time comes. For now, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments or anything else we missed here.