The regular season has come and gone for the SEC, which means: it's tournament time! All fourteen teams are seeded based off of their regular season records, and the top four seeds receive a double bye. Despite some late season turmoil, LSU is the number one seed, followed by Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Auburn is the fifth seed by virtue of a tie with South Carolina (The Gamecocks own the tiebreaker). The tournament is held in Nashville and play begins on Wednesday.
There's plenty to look forward to with each team:
1. LSU Tigers (26-5, 16-2 SEC): The Tigers were expected to be one of the surprise teams in the league, but nobody saw this type of success coming so sudden. A cloud of controversy has tainted their success, as coach Will Wade has been suspended by the university due to some investigations by the FBI into illegal recruitment tactics for Javonte Smart. Despite the negative press, players such as Tremont Waters (15.3 PPG, 5.9 APG) and Naz Reed (13.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG) have carried the Tigers to the top spot heading into the tournament.
2. Kentucky Wildcats (26-5, 15-3 SEC): After a sluggish start to the season that raised some uncertainties, John Calipari's Wildcats finished strong at the right time to claim a top-two seed in the tournament. Improved play from P.J. Washington, who finished with 14.9 PPG and 7.5 RPG, and Tyler Herro who added 14.2 PPG to go with 4.9 RPG has allowed Kentucky to keep afloat in the conference despite the absence of Reid Travis the last half of the season. With a healthy Travis looking to regain his form, the Wildcats look to win their fifth straight SEC Tournament title.
3. Tennessee Volunteers (27-4, 15-3 SEC): After finishing last season as SEC regular season co-champions, the regular season finale loss to Auburn slid Tennessee down to the third seed in the tournament. Despite the sour ending, there was plenty to smile about in Rocky Top country this season. Grant Williams had another stellar campaign, finishing with a team-leading 19.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while Admiral Schofield added 16.3 PPG. Williams and Schofield were top five in SEC scoring this season. With Jordan Bone as point guard, the Volunteers have plenty of experience to compete for the tournament title.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks (16-15, 11-7 SEC): Veteran leadership has propelled the Gamecocks to a top-four seeding and the last double bye in the tournament. Chris Silva came back to lead the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG, respectively. While their overall record doesn't give bracketologists a reason to put the Gamecocks in the NCAA tournament, a strong showing in the SEC tournament will allow them to at least enter bubble consideration.
5. Auburn Tigers (22-9, 11-7 SEC): If there was one phrase to describe Auburn's season, it would be: rollercoaster. Bruce Pearl's team finished strong to end the season on a four-game winning streak, highlighted by an upset of then No. 5 Tennessee on the last day of the regular season. The Tigers led the SEC in three-pointers made and attempted. Auburn's backcourt of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown continued to have All-SEC caliber seasons, as Harper finished with 15.2 PPG and 5.9 APG, while Brown led the team in scoring with 15.9 PPG with a 40 percent clip from three. With the backcourt and emergence of versatile big Chuma Okeke, the Tigers have the experience to play spoiler in the tournament.
6. Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-9, 10-8 SEC): Ben Howland's Bulldogs are poised to make another NCAA tournament, but they would love to improve their standing by making a deep run in the SEC tournament. A variety of players contributed this season, led by veteran Quinndary Weatherspoon, who led the team in scoring with 18.5 PPG. Big man Reggie Perry controls the inside and averaged 7.1 RPG this season. With Lamar Peters at the helm for point guard, the Bulldogs are one of those sleeper teams who could pull off an upset in the tournament.
7. Ole Miss Rebels: (20-11, 10-8 SEC): A quick turnaround has led to the transformation of Ole Miss basketball. Kermit Davis should be considered as one of the candidates for SEC Coach of the Year, and he has relied on several key players to ease his transition into the program. Breein Tyree led the team in scoring with 18.5 PPG, and Terrance Davis' versatility led to a team-leading 5.8 RPG and 3.4 APG to go along with 15.5 PPG. Currently slated to be a nine-seed in the NCAA tournament, the Rebels have the talent to create some noise in Nashville.
8. Florida Gators (17-14, 9-9 SEC): A disappointing season from the Gators has led them to slide back to the eight-seed heading into Nashville. While their defense is among the best in the SEC, the offense has been wildly inconsistent. There have been some bright spots this season in Mike White's fourth year with the team. Andrew Nembhard was among the best freshman in the league, finishing with 5.2 APG, and KeVaughn Allen led the team in scoring with 11.9 PPG. Despite the rough season, the Gators are still projected to make the tournament as an eleven-seed according to ESPN. A strong outing in the SEC tournament will improve Florida's case for a better seed.
9. Arkansas Razorbacks (17-14, 8-10 SEC): After losing key seniors off last year's team, the Razorbacks took a step back this season. Returning players such as Daniel Gafford had to pick up the lead role for the team and he delivered, leading the team in scoring with 17 PPG and 8.7 RPG. Freshman guard Isiah Joe was a pleasant surprise, contributing 14 PPG and 1.7 SPG while knocking down 43 percent of his three pointers. While a NCAA tournament birth seems unlikely, the Razorbacks can aim to become a NIT team with a strong performance in the SEC tournament.
10. Alabama Crimson Tide: (17-14, 8-10 SEC): Avery Johnson's Crimson Tide find themselves on the NCAA tournament bubble as one of the first four out. This season was wildly inconsistent, and the team featured a mix of young and old players. Freshman Kira Lewis Jr. led the team in scoring and assists with 13.9 PPG and 2.9 APG, and senior Donta Hall provided some muscle in the paint by leading the team with 8.7 RPG. To become a NCAA tournament caliber team, Alabama will need to pull off at least two upsets in Nashville.
11. Texas A&M Aggies (13-17, 6-12 SEC): Billy Kennedy's Aggies had a tough season in which it seemed like nothing went right for the team. After reaching the Sweet 16 last year, there was definitely a regression. Bright spots for this years team included Wendell Mitchell, who averaged a team-leading 13.5 PPG, and Savion Flagg, who led the team with 7.7 RPG. An early matchup with Vanderbilt in the tournament looks like the only win the Aggies will earn in the Music City.
12. Missouri Tigers (14-16, 5-13 SEC): A tumultuous season for the Tigers ended on a bright note, as they won two of their last three SEC games heading to tournament play. This years team features no star players, but there were some key contributions from Jordan Geist's team-leading 14 PPG to Jeremiah Tillmon's 5.9 RPG. Cuonzo Martin's Tigers will be playing Wednesday in the opening round, and will compete hard to create some disruption if they advance in the tournament.
13. Georgia Bulldogs (11-20, 2-16 SEC): The first season of Tom Crean in Athens had some optimistic moments, but it was still a disappointing season with only two conference wins against Vanderbilt and Florida. Many of their SEC losses were competitive, as they were within 10 or less points eight times. Nicolas Claxton was the main contributor for the Bulldogs, leading the team with 13 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.4 BPG. A matchup with Missouri Wednesday will be an opportunity for Georgia to notch another SEC win under their belt.
14. Vanderbilt Commodores (9-22, 0-18 SEC): A trendy pick by many (including yours truly) to be a surprise team in the SEC, the Commodores provided no excitement for their fans this past season and failed to win a single conference game. Losing star freshman Darius Garland to a season-ending knee injury certainly derailed Vanderbilt's season, and they never recovered. Players such as Saben Lee had to pick up the load for the team, and he ended up leading the rest of the season with 12.5 PPG and 3.9 APG. In what feels like a lost season for Scott Drew and his staff, the Commodores can finish on a strong note by winning a SEC tournament game as the host city.