The field for the 2015 SEC Tournament in Nashville is set:
Here is the schedule of events:
Wednesday, March 11
GAME 1: 12 Mississippi State vs. 13 Auburn, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
GAME 2: 14 Missouri vs. 11 South Carolina, 25 minutes after Game 1, SEC Network
Thursday, March 12
GAME 3: 8 Florida vs. 9 Alabama, 1 p.m. ET, SEC Network
GAME 4: Game 1 Winner vs. 5 Texas A&M, 25 minutes after Game 3, SEC Network
GAME 5: 7 Vanderbilt vs. 10 Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
GAME 6: Game 2 Winner vs. 6 Ole Miss, 25 minutes after Game 5, SEC Network
Friday, March 13
GAME 7: Game 3 Winner vs. 1 Kentucky, 1 p.m. ET, SEC Network
GAME 8: Game 4 Winner vs. 4 LSU, 25 minutes after Game 7, SEC Network
GAME 9: Game 5 Winner vs. 2 Arkansas, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
GAME 10: Game 6 Winner vs. 3 Georgia, 25 minutes after Game 9, SEC Network
Saturday, March 14
GAME 11: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
GAME 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 Winner, 25 minutes after Game 11, ESPN
Sunday, March 15
GAME 13: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
This bracket is not necessarily conducive to the SEC getting six teams into the NCAA Tournament.
Texas A&M actually slipped out of the Field of 68 in the latest Bracket Matrix that came out before all of yesterday's games finished, and LSU edged lower towards the cut line. The Tigers' win over Arkansas will definitely help them, but they're not yet a tourney lock. A better setup might've had A&M and LSU in different halves of the bracket, so that they each could've had a chance to beat a team more firmly in the bracket. The third three-way tie situation I outlined yesterday for the 3-seed through 6-seed teams would've put Ole Miss and LSU in line to play each other and Texas A&M and Georgia in line to play each other.
Of course, that situation would've given both the Aggies and Tigers a chance to lose in the quarterfinals. Perhaps this actually is the best outcome, as LSU probably won't fall out of the bracket with a loss to A&M. The Aggies swept the Tigers, so a third win over them might give them enough to get back on the right side of the bubble before getting mauled by Kentucky. Unless...
Anyway, the biggest loser of the tournament field is Ole Miss, and the Rebels have no one to blame but themselves. Had they taken care of business against Vanderbilt, they'd have secured the 3-seed along with the double bye that comes with it. Instead, they'll have to lose a day of rest to play either Missouri or South Carolina as the 6-seed.
Ole Miss blew out both of the teams from Columbia in the regular season, so the Rebels don't have a high chance of losing on Thursday. If they do win that one, they'll face Georgia on Friday. Had they gotten the 3-seed, then the Friday opponent would have been LSU. Both UGA and LSU swept the Rebels in the regular season, but it'd be better to face one of them fresh and rested rather than coming off of a game.
Another loser in the field is Alabama. The Tide is playing for seeding in the NIT, but they lost to their first opponent Florida in the regular season. It was only by two, but the fact the team got swept by Vandy as well suggests that Bama isn't up to beating teams in its tier of the conference. If the team does get by the Gators, it'll have the impossible task of facing Kentucky. Their prospects of making noise in Nashville aren't great.
LSU didn't make out all that well either, despite getting a double bye. The Tigers' first opponent is likely to be Texas A&M, a team that they went 0-2 against. If they get by the Aggies, they'll then get Kentucky. Had they lost to Arkansas, they'd have been the 6-seed instead of the 4-seed. They'd probably win the first game, setting up a game against the 3-seeded Georgia that they already have beaten. Next would probably be Arkansas, who we've seen the Tigers are capable of beating. Defeating Arkansas wasn't a pyrrhic victory, considering it just might've punched their dance ticket, but they'd have had a better chance at reaching the tournament final with a loss. Go figure.
Even Arkansas didn't make out like a bandit as the 2-seed. Two of the three non-Kentucky SEC teams the Razorbacks lost to—Tennessee and Ole Miss—could potentially their first two opponents.
Did anyone get a good draw? Georgia sort of did. The Bulldogs swept their likely first opponent Ole Miss, and they came closer to beating Arkansas than they did Kentucky. They could've done worse.
Texas A&M has a decent draw as well. No, being on UK's side of the bracket is not great. However the Aggies need another good win, and they get LSU second if they win their first game. They swept the Tigers in the regular season, and if LSU can stay above the 50 line, it could be a third RPI top-50 win for A&M. Surely there will be some kind of diminishing returns with all three being against the same team, but the Aggies can't turn anything down right now. Plus, they took Kentucky to double overtime in January. Granted that was in a friendly College Station environment and Wildcat fans will dominate the stands in Nashville, but they know they can hang with Big Blue.
We'll have plenty of coverage of the tournament throughout the week. It's been a few years since so much was riding on so many games in this bracket, so it's a welcome change.