Sprints // 03.09.09

Congratulations to the Vanderbilt women. And, to answer your question: Yes, there are women at Vanderbilt. And some of them play basketball -- play it so well, in fact, that the Commodores won the SEC tournament Sunday. Despite Vanderbilt's No. 22 ranking, the win was something of an upset, seeing as how defeated Auburn was ranked No. 6.

A minor in Bracketology. The SEC men's tournament schedule is set, and the Vanderbilt men will have a hill to climb to meet the achievements of their female counterparts. Your first-round byes go to regular season champion LSU, co-SEC East champs Tennessee (who wins the tiebreaker) and South Carolina and second-place West team Auburn.

Thursday's games: (W5) Ole Miss vs. (E4) Kentucky, 1 p.m. ET; (E6) Georgia vs. (W3) Mississippi State, 3:15 p.m. ET; (E5) Vanderbilt vs. (W4) Alabama, 7:30 p.m. ET; (W6) Arkansas vs. (E3) Florida, 9:45 p.m. ET. All are on RaycomformerlyLincolnFinancialformerlyJeffersonPilotThreeDaves. An early games live thread for the first two games will appear at TSK at 12 p.m ET, with a late games thread at 6 p.m. ET.

Not funerals nor missed planes nor ... Tennessee splits the title thanks to the fact that, well, South Carolina's last game was against Georgia, but also because Alabama's Anthony Brock decided to find a way to get to his team's final regular-season game despite his grandmother's funeral and a missed flight out of Little Rock. This ended up playing a key role:


 

I'm sure Alabama fans took no joy whatsoever in making sure Tennessee had to split the division title, no sir. This isn't the Third Saturday in October, just a friendly scrimmage, right?

A major in Bracketology. Auburn fans, meanwhile, are finally allowing themselves to dream of making the NCAA tournament as well as the SEC version -- the only requirement for the latter, of course, being to play basketball in the SEC. (So much for meritocracy ... ) This is quite the turnaround from, say, two weeks ago, when Jeff Lebo threated to add to the nation's worst-in-a-billion-years unemployment rate.

You've got to love these stories -- especially when it's your team. Don't look now, but the hottest team in all of college basketball resides at a football school in East Alabama. Then again, judging from the results of the past year, maybe Auburn is a basketball school -- if only for one year.

Following Auburn's 69-53 walloping of LSU on Saturday, suddenly the entire nation has taken notice of Jeff Lebo's no-name bunch. ESPN analyst Bobby Knight called the orange and blue Tigers the weekend's big winner. All of the so-called bracketologist who couldn't find Auburn on a map a week ago, now have them firmly on the tournament bubble with a heavy lean toward getting in.

The Chizik Junta takes exception to Auburn being called a basketball school of course -- give him a chance to at least go 3-9 before you assume he's going to be as bad as he was at Iowa State.

It's when the level-headed fans start coming at you that you worry. That scenario seems to be unfolding at Kentucky, where A Sea of Blue's Tru pulls no punches in saying that Billy Gillispie is, rightly or wrongly, on the hot seat.

Coach Gillispie was hired to coach Kentucky into Kentucky-like performances, not performances that would satisfy Georgia or Ole Miss.  He has now had two full years to deal with the issues that the program had before he came, and three of his recruiting classes will be in place by next fall.  We should begin to see progress from the 2006-07 years, not a continuation or regression from them.

I have advocated four years for Gillispie, and I still feel that way if he can show substantial progress next year.  If not, I'm not sure that Barnhart will be able to protect him for another year.

These sorts of comments have prompted Ron Morris to write a column tamping down speculation I have seen nowhere on the supposedly irresponsible blogs, namely that a candidate to replace Gillispie would be Darrin Horn. So, in case you were left wondering by the message board speculation that blogs are full of but the MSM never ever gives any credence to, there you have it.

You say "mind numbing stupidity," he says "recruiting bonanza." Boy Wonder still thinks his habit of making, um, interesting comments is good for Tennessee. Lane, I'm seeing a lot of Citi's colors and logos on newscasts, too, but I'm not about to go out and buy stock.

Troubled quarterbacks. South Carolina's G.A. Mangus might have the hardest job in the nation -- trying to keep Stephen Garcia on the straight and narrow. As well as being the most unlikely-looking Sister Hazel fan in the universe. At least Garcia's wrist is in one piece; the same cannot be said of Nick Stephens, one of Tennessee's competitors for the starting QB job. (HT: Rocky Top Talk)

One Vermonter's view of Oxford. Explicit language advisory, but humorous and interesting nonetheless.

And finally ... Apologies to the late-week dearth of posting on my part, and thanks as always to Year 2 for picking up some of the slack. I hate wisdom teeth.

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