With the NCAA Tournament looming, the talk of what truly is the best- and worst-case scenarios for each team has come into focus. Some are aiming high and want to cut down the nets in North Texas, while others are just happy to be there and would like nothing more than to bust a few brackets and wipe out their opponents' high aspirations.
Within the Southeastern Conference, that is no different. Three teams from the SEC are in "The Big Dance," and not much sticks out in the way of surprises. Many expected Florida and Kentucky to be the two top teams in the conference at the start of the season, and for Tennessee to be a team to grab a bid. And with the mega-event to begin on Tuesday, that is exactly what's happened.
That said, here's one take on each team's best case and worst case scenario, along with my own prediction for what happens.
Best Case Scenario: The Vols dispose of the fledgling Iowa Hawkeyes in the First Four, and then rattle off a win in Raleigh against UMass. Then, the Volunteers shock Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils with a terrific performance on both ends of the court. Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae to the Sweet 16, where they continue their successes by taking out Michigan, before falling to the winner of Wichita St.-Louisville in Indianapolis.
Worst Case Scenario: The Iowa offense finds their groove once again and Roy Devyn Marble goes off, sending Tennessee back home to Knoxville before Cuonzo Martin & Co. can even get their feet wet.
Prediction: Tennessee sends the Hawkeyes home, and the Vols knock off the A-10's Minutemen. McRae and Stokes do their damndest in the 3rd Round in Raleigh, going wire-to-wire with Duke. But a performance from soon-to-be Top-3 pick Jabari Parker puts the Blue Devils ahead.
Best Case Scenario: It's 2011 all over again. The Wildcats, struggling to find their groove all season, knock off Kansas State and send the Wichita St. Shockers back home to Kansas with their one and only blemish on the season. In the Battle for the Commonwealth, John Calipari bests Rick Pitino for the second time this season, destroying many a bracket, and the Cats make the Final Four.
Worst Case Scenario: The highly touted recruiting class gets knocked out in the first round by Kansas St. The "One and Done" phenomenon is (once again) put under the microscope and the 2011-12 Wildcats led by Anthony Davis are looked at as the exception and not the rule (justifiably so).
Prediction: Kentucky gets by Kansas St. in St. Louis, but falls to the Wheat Shockers in the 3rd Round. This despite an awesome performance from Julius Randle, and Kentucky's ability to get to the free throw line throughout the game. They are, after all, the eighth-best team in the country in FTRate. But, they are also 233rd in FT%.
Best Case Scenario: The Gators continue to forget how to lose, bullying their way through the South Region. They power through blue bloods UCLA and Kansas in Memphis, before a coronation occurs in North Texas, as Florida celebrates its third National Championship since 2006.
Worst Case Scenario: Florida, a team who has appeared in the Elite 8 in each of the last three seasons, misses out after a strong performance from Kyle Anderson and UCLA. Hey, a Sweet 16 performance being a "worst case scenario" isn't all bad, but certainly disappointing for the No. 1 Overall Seed in The Big Dance.
Prediction: Florida plows through the South Region and gets to North Texas, besting Fred Hoiberg's Iowa State Cyclones first. But despite a great effort, they fall just short of the National Championship.