The College Basketball season is another week old, and the SEC consistently provides the sport with several talented players and teams. Here are the major storylines from this week of SEC action in the NCAA Tournament.
1. Kentucky’s Disappointing Loss
There are several candidates for the most disappointing loss in the NCAA Tournament this year, and the Wildcats’ loss to Kansas State on Thursday night ranks right up there with them.
Its of course a great accomplishment to make the sweet Sixteen. When the brackets came out on Selection Sunday many thought that Kentucky would be very lucky just to make it this far.
Nevertheless, UK did in fact get very lucky but that’s why this loss is so disappointing. The path to the Final Four and the Championship game couldn’t have realistically been easier than what it was, but the Wildcats blew their golden opportunity.
But a disappointing loss does not necessarily equal a disappointing season. The youngest team in college basketball is walking away with a SEC Championship and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. Yes, UK fans will be thinking about what could’ve been. But what they got this season simply wasn’t a disappointing result.
Now Kentucky plays their yearly waiting game as they wait to see which players declare for the NBA Draft. It seems that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox are virtual locks to leave and Hamidou Diallo will more than likely join them. Who else will declare or transfer is a complete mystery.
No matter who stays or leaves, this team was just successful enough to go down in the eyes of Big Blue Nation as another respectable Calipari team that surprised, but just couldn’t get past its freshman inconsistencies.
The future is still incredibly bright, but its back to the drawing board for Cal and the Wildcats.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 24, 2018
2. The Wrong Texas A&M Team Shows Up to Play
The Aggies were an incredibly weird and perplexing team this year in the SEC and their performance in the Big Dance only reaffirmed their wacky regular season.
This season has been a constant battle between two versions of this team. Sometimes Texas A&M can walk onto the court and beat anyone they play as evidenced by their complete throttling of a good UNC team last weekend. But sometimes this undisciplined team will show up not prepared to play at all.
That was unfortunately the team that took the court against a red-hot Michigan team. The result was an absolute embarrassing 99-72 loss. If any UK fans out there are still upset about the Wildcats loss, just look at this final score and know that things could always be worse.
As their season comes to an end, I truly don’t know what to make of Texas A&M’s final product. Yes, a Sweet Sixteen appearance is always respectable, but this team truly underachieved. They lost their first game in the SEC Tournament, only had a .500 record in conference play, and they ended their season in an embarrassing loss.
With the overall talent that Billy Kennedy’s team had this season, they were better than all of those results. They had the talent to win the conference tournament and regular season championship, and they possibly should’ve been playing Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four.
For the Aggies the question they should ask their selves isn’t what could’ve been, but instead what went wrong?
Texas A&M's season disappeared quicker than Johnny Manziel's NFL career.
— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) March 23, 2018
3. No SEC Teams Reach the Elite Eight
In a way the SEC’s performance in the NCAA Tournament mirrored its regular season. The conference was extremely deep with talented teams. This showed as a record eight SEC teams made the tournament, and they got out to a blistering 5-0 start against similar competition.
However, the conference struggled all season with having truly dominant teams and that shows with the SEC being absent in the Elite Eight.
While that’s of course not a good look, the SEC was still one of the best conferences in college basketball this season. Take last season for instance. The conference luckily got three teams into the Elite Eight last season but the SEC was of course much better this season.
The NCAA Tournament is almost always incredibly wacky and hard to understand. Looking at how any one conference performs in such an unpredictable tournament and ignoring its entire regular season is just unwise.
In what is arguably the craziest postseason in college basketball season the SEC fell to some bad luck. It’s as simple as that.
Only next year will tell us if the conference will provide the sport with truly great teams. Until then, however, the SEC has more work to do.
Yeah, but what if Sister Jean played an SEC schedule?
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) March 25, 2018
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) March 15, 2018