A Fan's Guide to Men's SEC Tournament

ATLANTA, Ga.-- Less than four weeks from today, a new NCAA champion will be crowned on this floor, as the Georgia Dome hosts the men's Final Four for the first time ever.

But before we get to that, there's this little business of the SEC crowning a tournament champion. Starting Thursday afternoon, Atlanta's Georgia Dome will host the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament for the fifth time since the tournament's revival in 1979.

It's so wild, so crazy... that it can only, aptly be dubbed "March Madness," baybee. It's eleven games in four days, with an automatic NCAA bid just dangling out there for the tournament champion. It's an absolute orgy of basketball for the SEC fanatic.

If you've never been before, I assure you there's nothing quite like it. All the teams will be here. All the pep bands. All the cheerleaders. All the coaches. (Except perhaps Nolan Richardson.) All the SEC top brass. All the TV and newspaper reporters, frantically hunting for a scoop.

Best of all, all the fans will be here. Take all the wig-wearing, sign-waving, body-painting, trash-talking fans from all the SEC arenas and pour them into one bowl-- and voila, you've got the SEC Tournament.

And yes, VandyMania will be here as well, trying to bring you an inside slant on all the action. We'll be on hand to meet the team bus when it arrives Wednesday for the shootaround... and we'll stay around until the very end (or until Vandy gets eliminated, whichever comes first). We'll have interviews, game stories, and a few bonuses for premium subscribers.

Hopefully plenty of VandyManiacs are planning to make the trip. If so, here's some essential information:

  1. For us Vandy fans, they've made it very easy to remember our game times. All Vandy's games, for as long as the Commodores keep advancing, tip off at 1:00 Eastern, noon Central. (Let's all hope and pray we make it through more than one game this year.) We open with LSU on Thursday; if we win that, we get Georgia on Friday. Win that, and we probably get Florida or Mississippi State in the semifinals on Saturday. The championship game is Sunday.
  2. Ticket books covering all six sessions cost $200. To order, call 1-800-690-5908, or order online at www.secsports.com . Typically plenty of second-hand tickets for individual sessions are available on the streets outside the venue. (Tip: look for someone dressed in the colors of a team that just got eliminated.)
  3. Parking around the Georgia Dome is always expensive and scarce. I recommend utilizing MARTA, Atlanta's excellent subway system, which puts you within walking distance of the Dome. It costs $1.75 per person, and is well worth it for events like these.
  4. There are dozens of fine eateries and attractions within walking distance of the Georgia Dome. For a kids' attraction, try the Dr. Pepper SEC FanFare at the World Congress Center, the Centennial Olympic Park, or CNN Center.
  5. Former Coach Roy Skinner will be honored as an "SEC Living Legend" Friday morning at the Atlanta Hilton on Courtland Street. For information and reservations, contact the National Commodore Club.
  6. For those who just can't get enough roundball, catch the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night at 7:00 at nearby Philips Arena.

If you can't make it to the SEC Tournament this year, you can watch all the games on FoxSports Net, except for Sunday's final game, which airs on CBS.

Coming Wednesday: BrentVU's fearless predictions
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