Gators to face Tennessee for third time tonight, while Alabama-Georgia game most likely for NCAA Tournament berth
As it turns out, the No. 1 seed for Florida may not be all it's cracked up to be. Just maybe No. 2 might have been better.
Take a look at Kentucky. The No. 2-seeded Wildcats will play Mississippi today at 1 p.m. With a victory they'll face the winner of today's Alabama-Georgia game.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Florida will play No. 5 Tennessee tonight at 7:30. If the Gators win, they'll play the winner of tonight's Vanderbilt-Mississippi State game.
The Gators defeated Tennessee and Vanderbilt twice, but needed overtime against each to get some of those wins. And Mississippi State defeated the Gators 71-64earlier this season. In other words, they've fared much better against those teams on the other side of the bracket.
Beating a team three times in one season is never easy and the Vols - when they are on - pose a huge challenge.
"When they have their 'A' game, they are a Sweet 16 team,'' ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi said. "When they are good, they are really good. And when they are not, they are terrible.''
Tennessee led Arkansas by 16 in Thursday night's first round game before holding on for a 74-68 victory. Still, Lunardi said this week that Tennessee will make the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens at the SEC Tournament because of their strength of schedule.
"They are much like Villanova, but their unevenness is more spread out,'' Lunardi said.
As for the Alabama-Georgia game, Lunardi said the loser is out of the NCAA Tournament field.
I don't six (SEC teams) will get in,'' Lunardi said. "I’m thinking there’s a fork in the road when Georgia plays Alabama. I’m not as high on Georgia as some others seem to be. And you have to remember this is the time of year when people on the committee are trying to trim the field. . . . So that may be the truest elimination game of the week, when it happens, Georgia against Alabama, equaled only by Boston College and Clemson in the ACC Tournament. So one of them will move themselves out and it’ll be five (SEC teams) when it’s all said and done.''
Lunardi said Florida is most likely playing to hold onto a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but could fall to a No. 4 with a poor showing. A No. 2 seed is "unlikely" he said, even if the Gators win it all because the league isn't strong enough.
"I also think it’s largely, I don’t want to say unimportant, but it’s relatively unimportant (what happens this weekend) because they are going to Tampa either way,'' Lunardi said. "And then they are in kind of that area to play a 2-3 game in the Sweet 16 if they advance that far. And you’re only going to play marginally more difficult competition as a 3 than a 2. And that’s not even considering the fact that a lot of 2’s and 3’s are playing 6’s and 7’s or 10’s and 11's that could also have been moved a line for procedural reasons. So they may not play much different level competition as a 3. And I think given the choice of a No. 3 in Tampa or a No. 2 someplace else, they probably chose to stay in their own state, I’m guessing.''
Hear Donovan's thought on the SEC teams.