But the doom-sayers projecting the possibility of a South Carolina win in the SEC Tournament championship resulting in Alabama being by-passed by the NCAA Selection Committee proved to be a moot point when Florida won the league tournament by a 49-47 score Sunday afternoon. A few hours later Alabama was in the NCAA Tournament, a 10th seed that will face seventh seed Marquette in a first round game at San Diego on Thursday.
South Carolina did not get into the NCAA Tournament. Had the Gamecocks beaten Florida, Soluth Carolina would have had an automatic bid to the tournament and one of the 65 teams (precisely, one of the 34 at-large teams selected) named Sunday would have been left out.
Was Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried worried that South Carolina might have taken Bama's spot?
After first pointing out that it was a hypothetical question whose answer could never be known, Sunday evening Gottfried said, "If South Carolina had won, my hope would be that the last team on the board would have been eliminated, not one from our league."
While South Carolina didn't make it, Florida, Alabama and four other SEC teams are in the tournament.
"I thought our league had six teams that separated themselves from the rest of the league, and all six of them are in the tournament," Gottfried said.
Alabama was the lowest seed of the six SEC teams. Gottfried thought that was curious since the Tide was the number two team in the SEC Western Division. "If you had seeded the SEC Tournament, one through 12 based on conference play, we would have been the number three seed in the SEC," he said.
Gottfried added quickly, "It really doesn't matter."
Although Gottfried wasn't asked to address another hypothetical, it couldn't help but be noticed that Kentucky, which beat Alabama in the SEC Tournament, earned a number eight seed. The Wildcats will be playing Alabama-Birmingham, an over-achieving, well-coached team that is probably better than its nine seed. And awaiting the winner of that game is likely Connecticut, one of the favorites for this year's national championship.
Tennessee, as a two seed, will play Winthrop, a 15 seed.
LSU, a four seed, will play Iona. That will be in Jacksonville, Florida, where the Gators are also playing, against the third Alabama team in the tournament, South Alabama. Florida is a three seed, South Alabama a 14.
Arkansas drew an eight seed and will play a nine, Bucknell, with the winner likely to face top-seed Memphis in the Oakland bracket. The Arkansas-Bucknell game will be in Salt Lake City.