With March Madness upon us, conference tournaments are in full swing. The college basketball writers over at the World Wide Leader in Sports broke down each of the major conferences based on three different criteria points. While we know at the beginning of the year, that the SouthEastern Conference was thought to have the makings of a 1 tournament team conference. Possibly 2 and maybe even 3, but there was very real talk that Kentucky would be the only team from the SEC making the tournament. Since then, things have changed for the better in the SEC. While there are still teams that struggle way more than they should for a major conference, teams like Florida have stepped up in a major way.
Here’s what ESPN writer Eamonn Brennan had to say about the SEC, in regards to what people thought of it before the season started.
What we thought in the preseason: We thought, more or less, that the SEC was once again a Kentucky-and-everybody-else sort of affair. Given the history of the SEC — the Billy Donovan era at Florida notwithstanding — this seemed like the safest possible prediction.
It was hard to disagree with Brennan, when you consider what the SEC looked like before the season started. Here are his thoughts on the regular season.
What we learned in the regular season: The Billy Donovan era wasn’t the end of Florida after all. The Gators may not have been on the radar for long before Donovan’s tenure, but less than two calendar years after his departure for the Oklahoma City Thunder, successor Mike White has the Gators not only challenging Kentucky for SEC pre-eminence, but — in some ways, notably on the defensive end — exceeding them.
I’m actually on the Mike White for coach of the year train. Outside of their recent loss to Vandy, what the Gators have done this year, given their projections, is incredible. And it is great for the SEC to have teams like that going into March.
Finally, here’s what Brennan is thinking about the conference tourney in the SEC.
What will happen in the conference tournament: There is no doubt the Wildcats are the most talented team in the league, especially when guard De’Aaron Fox (who was injured when Kentucky beat Florida in Lexington on Feb. 25) is healthy and sprinting headlong into overwhelmed transition defenses. But the Gators — even without being at full strength themselves — appear more than capable of challenging Kentucky, as their 20-point Feb. 4 win in Gainesville displayed.
You can check out ESPN’s projections for the rest of the major conference tournaments here.
What do you guys think? Has the SEC improved upon what was once thought of them at the beginning of the season? Or was it just as bad as everyone thought it would be?