In accordance with SEC rules and regulations, a team that is prohibited from playing in the NCAA Tournament is prohibited from playing in the SEC Tournament.
By Georgia not participating in the SEC Tournament, the bracket will change, altering the seedings in the Eastern Division. The SEC Commissioner's Regulations stipulates that "for the purpose of seeding, if an institution is precluded from participating in the tournament, it shall automatically be seeded last in its division. The number three seed with the best conference record will then receive a bye."
With this action, Tennessee moves from the fourth seed in the East to the third seed. The Volunteers, with a 9-7 SEC record, are the third seed with the best record and will receive a first-round bye. South Carolina moves from the fifth seed in the East to the fourth and Vanderbilt jumps from the sixth seed in the East to the fifth seed. The sixth seed is vacated with the non-participation of Georgia in the tournament. No seeds in the Western Division are effected.
With these changes, the SEC Tournament will begin on Thursday, March 13 at noon CT with Ole Miss, the Western Division fifth-seed, against South Carolina, the Eastern Division fourth seed. The second game of the session will pit Arkansas, the Western Division sixth-seed, against Western Division third-seed LSU.
In the only game of the evening session on Thursday, Eastern Division fifth-seed Vanderbilt will play Alabama, the Western Division fourth-seed at 6:30 p.m. CT.
On Friday, March 14, the winner of the Ole Miss-South Carolina game will play Mississippi State, the Western Division first-seed, at noon CT. The second game of the session will have Eastern Division second-seed Florida playing the Arkansas-LSU winner.
The evening session on Friday will have Kentucky, the Eastern Division first-seed, playing the winner of the Vanderbilt-Alabama game at 6:30 p.m. CT. The second game of the session will have Auburn, the second-seed in the Western Division playing Tennessee, the Eastern Division third-seed.
Official notification of the bracket change came to the schools around 5:30 p.m. CT. Alabama, which practices at 4 p.m. on Mondays, was nearing completion of its practice which obviously was initially geared toward South Carolina when Head Coach Mark Gottfried was given word of the change in his first round opponent.
"It's been a long time since we played Vanderbilt, and we've spent a day and a half now studying South Carolina," said Gottfried. "I'm sure it will be a great challenge. Matt Freije has played well against us every time we've played them. I think every team in the league that's been affected, it's going to take half a day or so to get adjusted and do your homework.
"We literally switched in the middle of practice, changing notes, changing preparations. That's the first time in my career that that's ever happened. But again, Vanderbilt always poses problems. They beat us the only time they played us this year, so obviously our guys have a lot of respect for them."
The two semifinal games are on Saturday, March 15, beginning at noon CT. The championship game of the tournament will be on Sunday, March 16 at noon CT.
The first four days of the tournament will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot Sports while the championship game will be aired on CBS Sports. -30-