NASHVILLE – The action inside Bridgestone Arena has to come a close, and both participants in the championship game of the SEC Tournament, No. 1 Kentucky and No. 21 Arkansas, were safely in the field of 68 when brackets hit America late Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats, as expected, were the No. 1 overall seed and will begin play in Louisville in the Midwest Region. The Razorbacks landed as the fifth-seed in the West Region and will begin their run in Jacksonville.
Outside of the conference's top two, three additional league teams found their way into the Big Dance in LSU (the nine-seed in the East Region), Georgia (the 10-seed in the East Region) and Ole Miss (an 11-seed in the West Region that will first be in a play-in game).
The total haul of five for the conference of Dixie matched expectations from the two head coaches in Sunday's SEC title game, Kentucky's John Calipari and Arkansas' Mike Anderson.
Said Calipari: "Obviously I think Arkansas, Georgia and us are in. Then Mississippi and LSU are based on 'Is there an upset in another league?' But I think both of them deserve to be in. We had eight top-50 teams in this league. Eight. That was more than any league in the country. We lost a couple of bad games late.
"But body of work is all I keep hearing about. Body of work, body of work. Well their body of work was solid. So my hope is all five of us get in. Last year three of us were in the Sweet Sixteen, two of us were in the Final Four and one of us was in the last game of the year. If you want to go by the numbers we should have five in."
As for Anderson, whose Hogs lost 78-63 Sunday: "The level of play has improved tremendously (in the SEC this season). We’ll see five teams, hopefully six. I think that’s a testament to all the coaches and players and obviously our league is making a big push for basketball. Letting people know the SEC is not just Kentucky.
"When we go to the next stage, the tournament, we have to do damage. That’s how you make your reputation. It’s one thing to go to the dance. I want to dance."
Five clubs from the SEC, which in the last two seasons managed to put only three teams apiece into March Madness, will now have a chance to do damage and bust the kind of move Anderson is talking about.
Five in for SEC matches coaches' expectations
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