SEC Teams Make Case For NCAA Tourney

FAYETTEVILLE -- Now that Valentine's Day has passed, the time has come for some college basketball coaches to start wondering -- and maybe even worrying -- about how much love they'll get from the NCAA selection committee.

Top-ranked Florida has nothing to worry about, of course. No. 20 Kentucky and No. 25 Alabama don't appear to be in danger, either.

After that, though, it's uncertain how many other Southeastern Conference teams will get invited to the NCAA Tournament.

"I don't think there is any question that seven teams from our league should go," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said Thursday, though he admits "it's going to be very, very difficult" for his Bulldogs to earn an invite.

But Georgia (15-9, 6-5) remains one of several SEC teams hoping to use the final three weeks of the regular season to make a late case for why they should be included in the Big Dance.

Arkansas (15-10, 4-7), Ole Miss (17-8, 6-5), Tennessee (18-8, 6-5) and Vanderbilt (17-8, 7-4) are still in the mix, as well.

Since 2000, the SEC has gotten six teams into the NCAA Tournament every year but in 2005 when only five teams earned it.

"I'm not a lobbier or a campaigner or anything like that because I don't think it does one bit of good to sit there and say, 'Well, I think we deserve to get 12 teams in,'" Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "The committee will decide, and I hope we're one of them.

"But I think we've got a lot of teams that if they got in, we'll have a lot of success."

A Rough Time

This has been a rough for season for LSU coach John Brady, who has seen his Tigers go from making the Final Four a year ago to now being on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament.

To make matters worse, LSU (14-11, 3-8) fell into sole possession of last place in the SEC West after losing 71-70 at Ole Miss. It was the Tigers' seventh loss in eight games.

Brady was asked Thursday how he deals with the highs and lows of a college basketball season, especially one as trying as this year's.

"The first thing on top of all that is, make sure your contract is fine. That's the first issue that's OK here," Brady said. "After that, I have self-doubt. I don't think any coach that is successful or is fighting to be successful (is without self-doubt).

"... I think that's how you improve, to second-guess and review and look and have staff meetings and see what you could have done better."

On A Roll

Going undefeated in the SEC is hard enough, but it could be even tougher to do if you're the defending national champions -- getting every team's best shot.

Florida (24-2) has won 17 consecutive games, including its first 11 games in the league, to earn the distinction of being the nation's consensus top-ranked team.

But coach Billy Donovan doesn't want to make a big deal about the significance of going undefeated in a league filled with so much parity.

"It doesn't even cross my mind. ... I think one of the worst things we can do, our team can do is getting caught up in trying to forecast and predict the future or wanting to talk about the past," Donovan said. "Anything that's happened up to this point in time is over with, and I really don't know what's going to happen in the future."

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