Getting the SEC to Five NCAA Tournament Bids

J. Meric

Is such a thing even possible? Yes.

I've said here a couple of times that I think the most likely result is the SEC ending up with just three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, it looks to me that it'll be Florida, Kentucky, and either Tennessee or Arkansas. I give an edge to the Vols, but we'll see.

That said, I think there's a tiny, tiny chance that the conference can troll the rest of the country and get as many as five teams into the Big Dance. It depends on a few SEC Tournament upsets and some help nationwide, but let's see if we can get it done.

1. Two teams are in.

Florida will get a 1-seed, and even if Kentucky drops its first game in Atlanta, it still is easily in the bracket. Those are bids one and two.

2. All conference tournaments are won by locks, as applicable.

No bid thieves, basically. We need anyone listed as a lock here to win each conference tournament.

3. Arkansas defeats the Auburn/South Carolina winner

This result might or might not be required. I put it here because I still have some uncertainty about the next game.

4. Whoever is in better shape between Arkansas and Tennessee wins.

I give UT an edge, but some others give Arkansas a better shot of making the field. Only the Selection Committee knows who has the leg up, and even in that room, there's probably some disagreement.

I suspect this will be an elimination game, with the winner making the Field of 68 and the loser going to the NIT. So for simplicity's sake, I'm going to call the winner of this game Tennesaw. Tennesaw will make the tournament, bid No. 3.

5. Tigers make the tournament final.

We need a fourth bid from someone who doesn't win the whole thing. If the Arkansas-Tennessee loser is truly out, the only choice left is Mizzou. Except, the Tigers played themselves out of serious contention over the past few weeks, so they have some work to do.

MU beating Texas A&M is a must. Becoming the first SEC team to defeat Florida in its second game will give it a true signature win and put it back in contention like how Arkansas's win over Kentucky did. Then, just to be sure, the team probably needs to beat Tennesaw in the semifinal to feel relatively safe. Given that track, I feel like we can give the fourth bid to Missouri.

6. Anyone else wins the whole thing.

Georgia? Sure! LSU? Why not? My dark horse pick, Alabama? Roll Tide! Maybe Ole Miss? Back-to-back champs! It really doesn't matter who from the other half of the bracket beats Mizzou in the final as long as it's not Kentucky. We can fire up "Yakety Sax" and have Vanderbilt or Mississippi State run the table. It doesn't matter. Missouri needs to go down in the final to give the Surprise SEC Champ the fifth and final bid.

7. We couldn't end up with six... right?

Almost certainly not. Hitting that mark would require the loser of Arkansas-Tennessee to still make the field, and if basically every bracketologist out there is right, that's not going to happen. The one sliver of daylight here is if the Hogs beat the Vols and UT's really great computer numbers still carry the day on them.

I really don't see that happening, but if the stars aligned and the SEC did end up with six, I would love to see Mike Slive's face as he's interviewed about it live on CBS or ESPN.

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