Winning a division turned out to be overrated in this year's SEC. After all, LSU and South Carolina entered the tournament in Hoover as undisputed champions of the SEC West and SEC East, respectively. And in the space of about seven hours Friday, each of them was booted from the tournament in its third game.
Which leaves us with this odd grouping of teams. In Florida and Kentucky, we've got a couple of teams who were in the running for the SEC East until the very end but just couldn't get the wins when they needed them. And in Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, we have a pair of teams that have played with their hair on fire over the last several weeks, putting one team on the bubble to host a regional and moving the other from iffy tournament prospect to a team playing for seeding.
This weekend, all four of those stories come together in two semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. There are a lot of stories in this year's tournament, but only one of them is going to have a happy ending.
(4) Kentucky vs. (7) Mississippi State, 12 p.m. ET, CSS / ESPN 3
We meet again. The semifinal this weekend will mark the fifth time in 10 days that the Wildcats and the Bulldogs will face off with each other. At this point, it's almost getting personal. After all, it was Mississippi State that swept Kentucky out of the SEC East race and Kentucky that tried to cool of the Bulldogs by defeating them earlier in the tournament. The question for the Bulldogs is how much they have left after a thrilling win against LSU in the last round of the tournament. Kentucky, meanwhile, got its second bye of the tournament and will be ready to go for the noon game. But I'm hesitant to pick against whatever's working for Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs defeat their two-week rival again.
(5) Vanderbilt vs. (3) Florida, 30 minutes after Kentucky-Mississippi State, CSS / ESPN3
All week long, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have jockeyed for the title of Cinderella in this tournament. Considering the long odds of Vanderbilt even getting a No. 5 seed just a couple of weeks before the regular season ended, being in the middle of the field still seems to qualify the Commodores as an underdog. And Vanderbilt has defeated every team they've faced in this tournament, starting with Georgia before moving to back-to-back wins against South Carolina and Florida. The Gators might be headed for a national seed, but they're not going to be the SEC tournament champions as well; Vanderbilt wins.