While many things change for the Missouri Tigers as they enter their first ever SEC men’s basketball tournament, there’s at least one thing that will make this feel like an old Big 12 tournament weekend. Mizzou fans were used to seeing Sprint Center in Kansas City resemble a Kansas home game as many Jayhawk fans would flock into downtown to cheer on the perennial leaders of the conference. While Kentucky may be down a bit this year and on the NCAA bubble, Tiger fans can expect another sea of blue in Nashville. Kevin McCrarey, of South Carolina Radio Network, told me this weekend will have the feel of a Kentucky home game. South Carolina coach Frank Martin was recently quoted as saying, “You could book Kentucky to play overseas and they would probably outdraw whoever they are playing against.”
Kevin joins me to break down which teams are on the bubble, who has the best chance of winning the SEC tournament and does Frank Haith shake off the questions of his ability to coach in March, which have followed him since his days at Miami in the ACC?
The Tigers will be an NCAA tournament team. Most experts feel Mizzou and Florida are locks to represent the SEC, but a strong showing this weekend will certainly boost the Tigers seeding. The road won’t be easy. The Tigers will most likely face Texas A & M Thurday night (9 pm central tip), a team they lost to by a basket on the road. A & M has a big question mark as guard Elston Turner has broken finger. He scored 15 points in the Aggies win over Mizzou.
If the Tigers get past the Aggies, they’ll face Ole Miss on Friday night with another late night tip of 9 pm central. The last time these two teams faced each other, things got heated in the second half with players shoving each other. If Mizzou survives for a third game against the Rebels, they’ll most likely face Kentucky and coming back on short rest could spell their doom.
Because of the setup of this expanded tournament with 14 teams, Kevin and I like Florida over Kentucky in the finals. Kevin calls Tennessee a dark horse team that could surprise a lot of people. While their resume hasn’t been impressive, I’m leery of Ole Miss who could gut out a couple of wins against Mizzou and Kentucky.