Feb 25, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) shoots the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 83-74. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE
Here it is everyone, the battle for the SEC's automatic bid at 1:00 on ABC. Will the Wildcats roll to their expected coronation? Probably, but you never know. It's why they play the games.
After averaging 73 points per game throughout the season, Vandy has been held under 70 points in each of its first two games in New Orleans. It ultimately didn't matter against overmatched teams like Georgia and Ole Miss, but it sure will against Kentucky. In particular, the Commodores need to figure out a way to start off strong. They scored just 24 and 25 points the the first halves of their games against UGA and Ole Miss, respectively. Putting up less than 30 in a half versus UK is a great way to get beat. In Memorial Gym, Vandy led with just over three minutes to go before losing it. It'll need a similar effort tomorrow.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has not been quite its normal self so far. UK won 11 of its 16 regular season SEC games by double digits, but its tournament wins have come by nine and three points. Of course, LSU and Florida also played some of their best games all year, which is to be expected given how big a target Kentucky is wearing. Even though the margins have been smaller, it's not like the Wildcats have been playing poorly (especially against Florida yesterday).
There still is little reason to think that Kentucky won't win the title; it's the best team in the country and the New Orleans Arena has been turned into Rupp Arena South. Vandy won't go down without a fight though, so this should be a great SEC finale before the Big Dance.