The 2016 SEC Tournament schedule is expanding to a full day of games with Round 2 beginning today. Let's hit it.
8 Florida vs. 9 Arkansas
1 p.m. ET, SEC Network
No game on the slate today has more bearing on how many teams the SEC will put in the NCAA Tournament. The Florida Gators are sitting just on the outside of the bracket looking in, so they can't afford to pick up a loss today. Unfortunately for their cause, center John Egbunu tore a ligament in his hand and will be limited if he plays at all.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have things to play for too, though. Losing today would put the team down to .500 overall, and that would make it potentially the first Mike Anderson coached team to end the year with a losing record given that the team will probably make the NIT. The Hogs have also lost four straight to UF, with the last three losses all being by no more than four points.
5 Vanderbilt vs. 12 Tennessee
3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Vanderbilt Commodores might be able to still make the Big Dance after losing this game, but they would do well not to test it. Vandy's chief virtue is a general lack of bad losses, but falling here would give the 'Dores a second loss to a team in the RPI 140s (along with Mississippi State). Stumbling in the first game when the team has a favorable draw would also be the worst kind of unforced error.
The Tennessee Volunteers, meanwhile, are playing for pride at this point. They certainly would accumulate some pride by knocking off their in-state rival and potentially denying them an NCAA Tournament bid. The Vols were as sharp as they've been all year yesterday in their demolition of Auburn, proving that they have not given up on this season just yet.
7 Ole Miss vs. 10 Alabama
7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Ole Miss Rebels are the big what-if team of the conference. They only have two bad losses—one to George Mason in the non-conference and one to Mississippi State in league play—but they also only have three RPI top 100 wins. They also went through a period of injuries in January, most notably to Sebastian Saiz after he had an operation done on his eye, during which the team faced a rich stretch of potential good wins against LSU, Florida, and South Carolina. Both Saiz and Stefan Moody missed the loss to MSU that capped that bad stretch. If not for that, might the Rebels be in bubble contention?
The Alabama Crimson Tide was in bubble contention for a while thanks to the team's ability to beat good teams; it has the same number of RPI top 50 wins as Vandy and Florida combined. Having a few bad losses weighed the team down to NIT territory, and losing four-of-five down the stretch had sapped the squad's momentum. Knocking off Ole Miss would give the Tide something to build on for the postseason.
6 Georgia vs. 11 Mississippi State
9:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Georgia Bulldogs quietly had a nice SEC season. UGA didn't win enough non-conference games to get much serious bubble consideration, but it did finish in the top half of the league. The prize for winning this game is a date with South Carolina, a team the Bulldogs swept in the regular season. Getting to the SEC Tournament semifinals would be a nice end to the season before postseason tournament time for an overlooked team.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs showed some flashes of what's to come under Ben Howland. They were the conference's resident Big Dance spoiler, knocking Vandy and South Carolina down some and helping keep Ole Miss and Alabama out of serious consideration. Their best game is good enough to make some noise in Nashville, but they've found little success outside Starkville this year. Can they win away from home?