Eric Adams predicts the SEC Tournament

It's officially time to put Vanderbilt's loss to South Carolina behind us and focus on the SEC Tournament. Even though there are a few games that the Commodores let get away (Western Kentucky, Kentucky, and South Carolina), it has been a really good season for SEC Coach of the Year Kevin Stallings' squad.

If you had told him pre-season that the ‘Dores would be 2-seed coming out of the East, he would have been trilled.

Now, the Commodores need a run to the SEC Championship game to get the highest seed possible. Hopefully with a couple wins, the tournament committee will be merciful and give Vanderbilt a 3-seed. Let's take a look at the tournament as a whole and see if the ‘Dores can get to the final game.

Here is how each division ended up:

East No. 1 (E1) - Kentucky

E2 - Vanderbilt

E3 - Tennessee

E4 - Florida

E5 - South Carolina

E6 - Georgia

West No. 1 (W1) - Mississippi State

W2 - Ole Miss

W3 - Arkansas

W4 - Alabama

W5 - Auburn

W6 – LSU

Let's take a quick look at the first round games and see who should win and advance.

First Round

South Carolina vs. Alabama

At one point this season, the Crimson Tide was 11-4 and had the look of an NCAA Tournament team. Since then, Alabama came back to earth and finished the season 5-10 to wind up at 16-14. I think that Devan Downey will avenge last week's Senior Day loss to ‘Bama. The Crimson Tide is a better team, but Downey will carry the Gamecocks to the quarterfinals.

Verdict: South Carolina advances

LSU vs. Tennessee

LSU is really bad and the Volunteers need a deep run to maximize their NCAA seeding. It would take a miracle for the Tigers to win. Verdict: Tennessee rolls

Auburn vs. Florida

As of now, Florida seems to be in the field of 65. A loss to Auburn would be catastrophic. That might knock them over to the wrong side of the bubble. In reality, Auburn doesn't have any post-season aspirations and may lay an egg.

Verdict: Florida wins a close one

Georgia vs. Arkansas

I think the sexy pick is for Georgia to make a deep run in the tournament. They have beaten a lot of really good teams (Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida). I remember an ESPN commentator (Andy Katz?) saying that the Bulldogs have more quality wins than a lot of bubble teams. In their only meeting this year, the Razorbacks overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to win in Athens. This will be the game of the first round, and I think Arkansas pulls it out.

Verdict: Arkansas eliminates the sleeper of the tournament

Second Round

South Carolina vs. Kentucky

Big Blue Nation is slowly invading Nashville, and it will all crescendo against South Carolina. Downey is incredible, but not good enough to beat this Triple-A NBA team twice in the same season.

Verdict: Kentucky takes care of business

Tennessee vs. Ole Miss

After steamrolling LSU, the Vols will get a very motivated opponent in the quarters. Ole Miss is still on the NCAA radar. For them to have any chance at the Big Dance, they need to beat Tennessee. The Rebels let a 12-point second half lead evaporate in Knoxville and eventually lost to the Vols in overtime. Many people are anticipating an UK-UT semifinal, but I think Ole Miss spoils the party.

Verdict: Ole Miss keeps its NCAA hopes alive

Florida vs. Mississippi State

This may be a play-in game for the SEC Tournament. Both teams have similar resumes, and I can't imagine the committee putting the Gators in over the Bulldogs if Mississippi State wins this game. Florida won their earlier contest in Gainesville, and there isn't any reason to think why they can't do it again.

Verdict: Florida secures its spot in the NCAA Tournament

Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt

If you watched the game in Fayetteville, you would know that Vanderbilt looked like a far superior team. That was only two weeks ago. Not that much has changed.

Verdict: Vanderbilt moves to the semifinals with ease

Semifinals

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss

For some reason I really want to pick Ole Miss here. But I keep hearing John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins over and over in my head. So…yeah…I'm going to go with the Wildcats.

Verdict: Kentucky makes it to the finals, but it'll be closer than people think

Florida vs. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt took Florida's best shot in Gainesville and still won. It's tough to beat a team three times in the same season, but I think the ‘Dores are motivated and want another shot at Kentucky. Hopefully the hometown crowd is enough to get Vandy by the Gators once again.

Verdict: Vanderbilt gets its chance at revenge

Championship Game

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Do I pick with my head or my heart? Maybe both. Vanderbilt is a couple plays away from being one of the hottest teams in the country. If Vandy beat Kentucky at Memorial, then gave Devan Downey food poisoning before Senior Day, the ‘Dores would be playing for a 2-seed. Think about it. The Commodores would be 25-5, regular season SEC Champions, and a top 10 team in the country. Sure this is a bunch of "What Ifs", but it doesn't change the fact that Vanderbilt is built very well for the Big Dance. The problem is the tournament committee doesn't see close losses to UK and South Carolina, they only see losses. Kentucky already has a 1-seed locked up, so Vanderbilt will hopefully be the hungrier team.

Some national media may say that since the game is in Nashville, the Commodores will have a home-court edge. We all know that would be crazy. For the three of us that attended the Sun Belt Classic, we know how bad it can get. It feels like the entire state of Kentucky is coming to town. In a UK-Vandy final, I would say the crowd would be about 70/30 for the Wildcats.

I'm not naive enough to think that Vanderbilt is better than Kentucky. But I do think they match up pretty well with them. They are one of the few teams to not play zone against them. Beal can slow down Wall enough to give them a chance. Cousins is a beast, but hopefully not on Sunday. The ‘Dores will get open looks, and if they can hit them, they may be able to shock the nation. I sure hope so.

Verdict: Vanderbilt wins their first SEC Tournament since 1951.


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