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The SEC in the NCAA Tournament: Round of 64

The conference has seven representatives in the NCAA Tournament. How many can expect to be left standing going into the weekend?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Tennessee vs Auburn Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning!

The NCAA Tournament is here!

As the first games draw closer and closer, surely you’re wondering how many of the seven SEC representatives will pick up victories in their first NCAA Tournament games.

Let’s dive right in!


Thursday

(3) LSU vs. (14) Yale

The Tigers are still without Will Wade, but the beat goes on, as they say. They’ll draw a tough opponent in the Yale Bulldogs. The Bulldogs went 22-7 on the year and won the Ivy League. Led by NBA prospect and Ivy League Player of the Year Miye Oni, Yale isn’t to be taken lightly. Oni averaged 17.6 points per game and hauls in 6.3 rebounds per game, as well. Oni also hits threes at a respectable 38% clip, which could spell trouble for an LSU team that is average at three-point defense.

However, despite Oni’s abilities, LSU will still be able to score fairly easily against a Yale defense that isn’t all that good.

Pick: LSU

(5) Auburn vs. (12) New Mexico State

This really stinks for Auburn. They won the SEC Tournament and are in the top 15 of KenPom, and their “reward” is having to travel across the country to face a 30-win New Mexico State Aggies team that boasts very similar metrics to the Tigers? NMSU uses their bench more than any team in the country, with their bench minutes clocking in at 49.1%, so they can throw many different looks at the Tigers. If Auburn’s three-point shooting keeps up like it was in the SEC Tournament, they will be fine, but I think the deck is stacked against them.

Pick: New Mexico State

(10) Florida vs. (7) Nevada

It seems odd that people soured on Nevada so quickly. I know they didn’t win their conference tournament, but it still feels like they’re still the same team that was 24-1 going into the last week of February. Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline present a tough matchup for any team they face, and that will likely remain true here. If you’re looking for a trendy upset pick, avoid the Gators.

Pick: Nevada

(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Abilene Christian

Pick: Kentucky


Friday

(8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Oklahoma

While Ole Miss stumbled a bit down the stretch and while it’s often a bad idea to pick against Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, it feels like Breein Tyree and Terence Davis will be the two best players on the court in this game, which gives Ole Miss the advantage.

Pick: Ole Miss

(2) Tennessee vs. (15) Colgate

Pick: Tennessee

(5) Mississippi State vs. (12) Liberty

Liberty is also a very trendy upset pick after their performance in the Atlantic Sun Tournament, but as long as Liberty doesn’t got hot from deep, the Bulldogs’ offense is just too good for the Flames to keep up with.

Pick: Mississippi State